March 31, 2023
Update from Mobility21 sponsored Robotics Institute Summer Scholar Student Rayna Hata:
My research with the RISS program and Dr. Stephen Smith of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Lab at CMU RI started in the summer of 2021. For the past two years, I have been researching methods of Blind Pedestrian Navigation on Urban Crosswalks using the PedPal app, first created by Dr. Smith and his team. This project touched upon my interest in assistive technology, a theme that has been a driving factor in many of my research projects. Assistive technology such as these is essential as vision-impaired pedestrians face multiple difficulties when crossing urban crosswalks, leading them to stray off the path or spend multiple signal cycles at the intersection. This directly impacts the safety and efficiency as they cross the intersection.
In my first summer at RISS, I researched methods on devices that could best track and localize the pedestrian, ultimately landing at ultra-wideband devices. Continuing to research under Dr. Smith during the school year and into a second summer at RISS, I worked to develop an algorithm to continually localize the pedestrian as they approach and cross the intersection, warning them if they start to stray off the path. I also worked to create a simulation where this algorithm could be tested and visualized. At the end of RISS, I presented my research to other RISS peers and professors at the Robotics Institute, where I received thoughtful feedback and comments about my research and my presentation—every moment at RISS allowed me to grow as a researcher.
My summers at RISS were also much more than just conducting research. I could attend seminars hosted by renowned researchers in various fields, see firsthand amazing research done at CMU, and form connections with peers as passionate about robotics as I am. My overall experience at RISS solidified my interest in attending graduate school and obtaining my Ph.D. in robotics to further my education and research experience in assistive technology and human-computer interaction. I am excited to return to the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute this fall as a PhD student and to learn from and research alongside incredible researchers in the field.