Full Professor at the Department of Cognitive Robotics, Faculty 3mE, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.
My main research interest is the understanding of human behavior when physically interacting with vehicles or tools, especially when these have some level of (semi-)autonomy (i.e. become robotic systems). In the past 18 years I learned a lot about designing and evaluating human-robot interaction, and published over a hundred scientific articles on haptics, shared control, human-automation interaction, tele-operation, design and evaluation of driver support systems, modeling of drivers and pilots, sensorimotor control, system identification, and much more. I recently gave my inaugural address, outlining my past activities and research vision.
In my role of professor in Haptic Human-Robot Interaction, I currently represent the Human-Robot Interaction group in the Cognitive Robotics Department. This group aims to ensure that humans and robots can understand each other’s behavior in order to move and act together in the same space. The group studies the fundamentals of human control and cooperation with robot systems, and engineers interface prototypes by exploring different interaction design principles and experimentally testing them in human-in-the-loop studies, ranging from simulator studies to real-world tests. The group addresses two main research areas: (i) cognitive HRI based on gaze, gestures, and body/vehicle motions (De Winter); and (ii) physical HRI, based on shared control (Abbink), human-robot collaboration (Peternel), and surface haptics (Wiertlewski). Practical applications can be found in the automotive domain, but also in production robots, remote controlled robots, and soft robotics. In my team we build our own haptic devices, develop prototype interfaces in driving or flight simulators and evaluate that in human-in-the-loop experiments, and sometimes test our prototypes in the real world. For my research I have the pleasure of working with a diverse group of inspiring scientists and students, on a number of research programmes funded by Nissan, Boeing, Renault and the Dutch Science Foundation NWO. Also, I’ve received two highly competitive personal grants: the VENI grant (2010) and the VIDI grant (2015).
Teaching is something I very much enjoy, and students seem to enjoy this as well: they’ve voted me as best teacher of the BioMechanical Engineering department for seven consecutive years. I was selected best teacher of the faculty in 2013 and 2014, and my course The Human Controller received an international award for outstanding Open CourseWare.
I also enjoy outreach and presenting to different crowds about how humans and technology interact: from theatre performances and Gala van de Wetenschap 2015 to lectures for Universiteit van Nederland, and from a photo-comic for children to interviews on national TV programs like “Witteman Ontdekt“, “De Volmaakte Mens“, and “Kennis van Nu“. For presentations and media appearances I’m currently represented by Bukman Management.
I have always worked 4 days a week, to ensure time for the other pleasures in life. Apart from being a scientist, I have a not-so-secret alter ego as a drummer. In the period of 1999-2014 I’ve recorded four albums, twelve video clips and have played over 400 shows in three different continents. Other things I love to do include traveling, philosophy, mythology, cooking, art in many of its forms and – since 2017 – being a dad!