Asst Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Robotics and controls; medical robotics; soft robotics; haptics; virtual and augmented reality; and teleoperation
Morimoto's research focuses on the design and control of flexible and soft robots for unstructured, unknown environments. She aims to develop safer, more dexterous robots and intuitive human-in-the-loop control interfaces that enable access, exploration, and manipulation, especially for medical applications. She has developed a workflow for the design, fabrication, and deployment of personalized continuum surgical robots, based on preoperative medical images of the particular patient. This workflow included the creation of a virtual-reality interface for the surgeon to design the personalized robot, as well as the development of a modular actuation system for controlling the finalized continuum robot via teleoperation. Another area of interest is in haptic device development, particularly for education. She helped with the development of "Hapkit", a low-cost, one degree-of-freedom haptic device that students can assemble themselves and subsequently learn how to create and program various virtual environments that they can actually feel. These devices have been used in hands-on laboratories for a wide range of classes, including those taught at Stanford, online, and at a local middle school.
Before joining UC San Diego in the fall of 2018, Morimoto earned a Ph.D. and Master's from Stanford University in the CHARM (Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine) Laboratory. At Stanford, her research focused on the development of a new paradigm of patient- and procedure-specific (i.e. personalized) surgical robot design. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mechanical engineering.