Dr. Deshpande’s research enables the design and building of robots for rehabilitation, prosthetics, and assistive applications. With growing numbers of elderly patients and veterans in the US, there is a critical need for innovative solutions that improve patient rehabilitation, and Deshpande’s vision is to employ robotics to help. His research program focuses on two major research streams to further this vision: i) Robotic Hand Design and Control, and ii) Wearable Robotic Systems.
The design challenges and opportunities for robots attached to the human body are fundamentally different from those associated with typical industrial robots working in isolated and structured environments. To address these, Deshpande’s research is informed by results from experiments with human subjects, simulations of human musculoskeletal systems, and mathematical analyses of human-robot interactions. Contributions from these two research streams include novel understanding of biomechanical and neural control of the human hand, robotic fingers with human-like manipulation capabilities, and novel wearable robotic devices and control algorithms for delivering therapy.
Deshpande’s research group, the ReNeu Robotics Lab, has embarked upon a research trajectory that is both theoretically grounded and application-oriented. The three main goals are to gain a deeper understanding of human motor control and underlying mechanisms of motor recovery; to design robots that work with humans in remote, dangerous and sensitive environments; and to develop wearable robots for recovery, entertainment, and improvement in patient’s quality of life.
Dr. Deshpande’s areas of expertise are (a) design and control of robotic systems, including upper-body exoskeletons, (b) modeling of human biomechanics and neural controls, and (c) modeling and design of interfaces for human-device interactions.
Dr. Deshpande is looking for collaborations with researchers with complementary interests, especially in the areas of clinical studies and bio-statistics. His current collaborators include, Drs. Neptune and Sulzer here UT (rehabilitation robotics), and Dr. O’Malley from Rice University (exoskeleton control for rehabilitation). He is also collaborating with MDs from UT’s Dell Medical School (Dr. Parthasarathy), Houston Methodist (Dr. Chiu) and TIRR Memorial Hermann (Dr. Francisco) toward examination of the efficacy of rehabilitation devices; and researchers at NASA (robotics group at the Johnson Space Center).
You can learn more about his lab on its website.