Akhil Padmanabha

I am a second year Ph.D. student at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

I am co-advised by Professor Zackory Erickson and Professor Carmel Majidi and collaborate with Dr. Sonal Choudhary at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). My research is centered around wearable devices, assistive robotics, and robotic sensing.

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Bio

After going through several severe health challenges and hospitalizations in high school and switching to homeschooling, where I was not offered honors or AP courses, I surprisingly received admission to UC Berkeley. I initially chose to study Psychology with the aim of becoming a licensed therapist for chronically-ill adolescents, but later switched majors to Mechanical Engineering, inspired to pursue a career in robotics for social good. My health challenges have showed me that life should not be taken for granted. Over the last few years, I've made an effort to live my life to the fullest, pursuing and fighting for exciting and impactful opportunities. I've accomplished so much so far and I can't wait to do more.

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. During my undergraduate years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Professor Sergey Levine at the Robotic AI & Learning Lab, Professor Alice Agogino at the Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrities Lab, and Professor Wenzhen Yuan at the RoboTouch Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

In addition to research, I interned at SpaceX for two summers, in Boca Chica, Texas where I led a project to deploy robot dogs for the Starship Launch Operations Team, and in Cape Canaveral, Florida where I upgraded the control systems for the Of Course I Still Love You droneship for the Falcon 9 Booster Recovery Team. I additionally interned for robotics startup, ViaBot, where I did rapid prototyping and mechatronics design for RUNO. Lastly, I led the RoboBears combat robotics team at UC Berkeley, where I organized the Cal Combat Robotics Competition.

Research
SLURP SLURP! Spectroscopy of Liquids Using Robot Pre-Touch Sensing
Nathaniel Hanson*, Wesley Lewis*, Kavya Puthuveetil, Donelle Furline, Akhil Padmanabha, Taskin Padir, Zackory Erickson
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2023
PDF / video / website
HAT HAT: Head-Worn Assistive Teleoperation of Mobile Manipulators
Akhil Padmanabha*, Qin Wang*, Daphne Han, Jashkumar Diyora, Kriti Kacker, Hamza Khalid, Liang-Jung Chen, Carmel Majidi , Zackory Erickson
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2023
PDF / video / website
tensegrity Force-Sensing Tensegrity for Investigating Physical Human-Robot Interaction in Compliant Robotic Systems
Andrew Barkan, Akhil Padmanabha, Sala Tiemann, Albert Lee, Matthew Kanter, Yash Agarwal, Alice Agogino
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2021
PDF
omnitact OmniTact: A Multi-Directional High-Resolution Touch Sensor
Akhil Padmanabha, Frederik Ebert, Stephen Tian, Roberto Calandra, Chelsea Finn, Sergey Levine
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020
PDF / video / website / blog

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