Head of group: Ralph Etienne-Cummings

Location of group: Baltimore, MD

Number of faculty: 3

Number of researchers/postdocs: 1

Number of students: 10

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Our research over the past 12 years has developed through three main phases. In the first, we studied biologically inspired sensors and sensory computation systems, primarily in the form of vision sensors. Typically, these systems were implemented with very large scale integrated (VLSI) technology and were used to extract information about the environment and to guide the `attention' of other computation systems.

After that, we studied how these systems can be hosted by robots. At that point we also started to model spinal neural circuits in silicon, and develop robots to study legged locomotion. We developed a close collaboration with Prof. Anthony Lewis of the University of Arizona and Iguana Robotics, Inc. Both VLSI circuits and biomorphic robots were developed and used in these studies. (We define a biomorphic robot as a mechanical device and control system that mimics the form and function of its living counterpart. For example, legged robots and prosthetic limbs are biomorphic robots.)

More recently, we have evolved this work to include brain-machine interfaces and neural prosthesis devices. Specifically, we have started looking at spinal and cortical prosthetics and robotic systems to restore function after injury and for human augmentation. This new area has required close collaboration with neuroscientists to gain access to animal models: specifically lamprey (with Avis Cohen), cat (with Vivian Mushahwar), and monkey (Steve Hsiao) preparations. Our recent work has included various experiments to understand neurophysiology of spinal neural circuits, to interface with them, to decode their sensory-motor relationships, and to use these relationships to control biomorphic robots. We plan to continue to expand this area research, while leveraging my laboratory's expertise in VLSI circuits and systems, visual and acoustical information processing, neuromorphic computation systems and biomorphic robotics.

Further information: http://etienne.ece.jhu.edu/

Contact for those interested in joining the group: retienne {at} jhu {dot} edu

Recent representative papers:

Y. M. Chi, R. Etienne-Cummings, and G. Cauwenberghs, Focal-Plane Change Triggered Video Compression for Low-Power Vision Sensor Systems, to appear in Public Library of Science One, 2009.

J. Tapson et al., A First-Order Non-Homogeneous Markov Model for Integrate-and-Fire Neurons Stimulated by Small Phase-Continuous Signals, to appear in Neural Computation, 2009.

S. Mitra, R. Zele, and R. Etienne-Cummings, Low-Voltage, High CMRR OTA For Electrophysiological Measurements, accepted for ISCAS 2009, Taipei, Taiwan, May 2009.

F. Folowosele et al., A Switched Capacitor Implementation of the Generalized Linear Integrate-and-Fire Neuron, accepted for ISCAS 2009, Taipei, Taiwan, May 2009.

F. Tenore and R. Etienne-Cummings, Biomorphic Circuits and Systems: Control of Robotic and Prosthetic Systems, IEEE BioCAS 2008, Baltimore, MD, November 2008.

J. Tapson et al., The Feeling of Color: a Haptic Feedback Device for the Visually Disabled, IEEE BioCAS 2008, Baltimore, MD, November 2008.

R. J. Vogelstein et al., A Silicon Central Pattern Generator Controls Locomotion in vivo, IEEE Trans. on Biomedical Circuits and Systems 2, pp. 212-222, 2008.

F. Tenore et al., Towards Real-Time Control of Individuated Finger Movements using Surface Myoelectric Signals, IEEE Trans. in Biomedical Engineering, 2008.

F. Tenore et al., Using Real-time Finger Tracking to Detect User Errors, North East BioEngineering Conf., Providence, RI, April 2008.

F. Tenore and R. Etienne-Cummings, Biomorphic Circuits and Systems: Control of Robotic and Prosthetic Systems, IEEE BioCAS 2008, Baltimore, MD, November 2008.