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David Black

PhD Student

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty of Applied Science

David Black is a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Tim Salcudean at the Robotics and Controls Laboratory (RCL). He received his BASc in Engineering Physics in 2021 from the University of British Columbia.

David’s research focuses on control and artificial intelligence in medical robotics. The RCL is uniquely equipped with novel force sensing technology built into the da Vinci Surgical System. With this setup, David’s work investigates control architectures for haptic feedback in robotic surgery, as well as using force data in reinforcement learning to train the robot to carry out tasks such as suturing autonomously. In addition, he is applying the same concepts to develop a novel control framework leveraging mixed reality and 5G to effectively use a human as a flexible, safe, cognitive robot for tele-medicine applications such as tele-ultrasound. In this work, haptics, teleoperation, and artificial intelligence again play a key role.

Coming from a physics-heavy background, David is also very interested in medical physics such as positron emission tomography and fluorescence spectroscopy, having carried out research work in both, at the BC Cancer Research Centre and University Hospital of Münster, Germany, respectively. David has spent time working in Germany and in local Vancouver robotics start-ups, most recently co-founding an exoskeleton-ski-related start-up called Snowspines, Inc.

When not in the lab, David can most often be found in the mountains, skiing, paragliding, speedflying, trail running, or rock climbing (or several at once).