The workshop is designed to provide coverage of cutting edge research in robotics and to present career paths in robotics.Topics covered range from taking inspiration from nature to design systems of many simple robots, to using robots to improve our daily lifes, to enabling robots to make intelligent decisions and operate in a team. A panel will focus on career paths and job opportunities not only in academia but also in industry and research labs.
The workshop is intended for students, specifically undergraduate considering options for graduate schol and beginning graduate students looking for a research topic, but will also be of value to researchers interested in the latest developments in robotics and to faculty using robotics as a motivator for students in computer science.
Session One: Engineering Self-Organizing Systems
Thursday, October 1st 10:00-11:00 am - San Luis 1-2
Presenter: Radhika Nagpal (Harvard University)
Biological systems, from embryos to social insects, get tremendous mileage by using vast numbers of cheap and unreliable individuals to achieve complex goals. We are also rapidly building new kinds of distributed systems with similar characteristics, from multi-modular robots and robot swarms, to vast sensor networks. Can we achieve the kind of complexity and self-repair that nature achieves? How do we engineer robust collective behavior?
In this talk, I will describe several projects from my group where we have used inspiration from nature — termites, fireflies, and cells — to design new kinds of robots and networks. For example, simple robots that collectively build structures without explicit communication, self-adaptive modular robots that respond to the environment, and wireless sensor networks that use firefly-inspired algorithms to achieve high throughput. In each case, we use inspiration from biology to design simple decentralized cooperation, and techniques from computer science to analyze and generalize these algorithms to new tasks.
A common theme in all of our work is understanding self-organizing multi-agent systems: how does robust collective behavior arise from many locally interacting agents, and how can we systematically program simple agents to achieve the global behaviors we want. Nature has many lessons to teach us.
Bio: Radhika Nagpal is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University since 2004. She received her PhD degree in Computer Science from MIT, and spent a year as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. She is a recipient of the 2005 Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship award and the 2007 NSF Career award. Her research interests are biologically-inspired engineering principles for multi-agent systems and modelling multicellular biology.
Session Two: Living Better with Robots
Thursday, October 1st 11:15am -12:15pm - San Luis 1-2
Presenter: Cynthia Breazeal (MIT)
The emerging field of Human-Robot Interaction is undergoing rapid growth, motivated by important societal challenges and new applications for robotic technologies for the general public. In this talk, I present five projects currently under development in the Robotic Life Group at the Media Lab. Two projects explore “invisible robot” applications where we have integrated robotic technologies into everyday artifacts like clothing or desktop computers, and the rest focus on more anthropomorphic social robots and interactive game characters. These projects are motivated by the promise of social robotics and related technologies to play a beneficial role in the daily lives of people. An important goal of this work is to leverage scientific understanding of human brains, bodies, and behavior to design robotic technologies that can enhance human performance, learning, communication, and quality of life. Specific applications in eldercare, health, education, and social networking will be highlighted.
Bio: Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she founded and directs the Personal Robots Group at the Media Lab and co-directs the Center for Future Storytelling. She is a pioneer of Social Robotics and Human Robot Interaction (HRI). Her research program focuses on developing personal robots that interact with humans in human-centric terms, work with humans as partners, and learn from people via tutelage. More recent work investigates the impact of long term HRI applied to communication, quality of life, health, and educational goals. She has authored the book “Designing Sociable Robots” and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in journals and conferences in autonomous robotics, artificial intelligence, human robot interaction, and robot learning. She has been awarded an ONR Young Investigator Award, honored as finalist in the National Design Awards in Communication, and recognized as a prominent young innovator by the National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lecture Award. Her latest robot, Nexi, was recognized in TIME magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008. She received her ScD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2000.
Session Three: Panel on Career Paths in Robotics
Thursday, October 1st 3:15-4:14pm - San Luis 1-2
Junior researchers working in industry, research labs, and academia will talk about their career, reflecting on the journey that has taken them to their current position and providing insights on jobs and career opportunities in robotics.
Maria Gini, Professor, University of Minnesota
Maria Gini is a Professor at the University of Minnesota. She specializes in Artificial Intelligence and robotics, in particular robot planning, navigation in unknown environments, coordinated behaviors of autonomous robots, search and rescue applications, and economic agents. She is a Fellow of AAAI and the chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence (SIGART).
Sonia Chernova, Postdoc, MIT
Sonia Chernova received her PhD in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. During 2009-2010 she will be a post-doc in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab with Cynthia Breazeal. She will then join Worcester Polytechnic Institute as an Assistant Professor. Her research interests are on AI and autonomous robotic systems, specifically robot learning, adjustable autonomy and human-robot interaction.
Ashley Stroupe, Staff Engineer, JPL
Ashley Stroupe has been a Staff Engineer at JPL since December 2003, which she joined after completing her PhD in Robotics at CMU. She works in flight operations for the Mars Exploration Rovers and on the development of the flight mission Mars Science Laboratory. Her research focuses on multi-robot teams in complex environments and behavior-based control, with applications to exploration and mapping, dynamic target observation, and cooperative manipulation.
Kristen Stubbs, Program Manager, iRobot
Kristen Stubbs is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Outreach (STEM) Program Manager at iRobot Corporation, where she leads iRobot’s efforts to promote STEM education through the use of robots. Before joining iRobot, she was a post-doct at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She received her PhD in Robotics from CMU in 2008. Her research work is in human robot interaction, specifically on promoting common ground between collaborating people and robots.
Session Four: Challenges and Results of Multi-Robot and Multi-Human Systems
Thursday, October 1st 4:30-5:30pm - San Luis 1-2
Presenter: Manuela Veloso (Carnegie Mellon)
We envision humans coexisting with robots - such vision offers many technical challenges but also opportunities for robot development. In this talk, I overview the problems and results in multi-robot robot perception, cognition, communication, and action. I illustrate planning and coordination algorithms with our robot soccer teams. I then introduce the opportunities for robots to observe and learn from implicit or explicit guidance from humans. I present a recently successful autonomous indoor robot, CoBot, that acts as a visitor’s companion. CoBot includes a symbiotic interaction approach to capture complementary limitations and expertise of humans and robots. The talk concludes with a discussion of the main interesting research questions in multi-robot, multi-human environments.
Bio: Manuela M. Veloso is the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Veloso researches in planning, control learning, and execution for multi-robot teams. Her algorithms address uncertain, dynamic, and adversarial environments. Veloso is a Fellow of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence and President of the RoboCup Federation. She was recently awarded the 2009 ACM/SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Award.
A special thanks to our generous sponsor!