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[VIRTUAL] GRASP On Robotics: Steven LaValle, University of Oulu, “Billiard-Like Robots: Let Them Be Unstable and Unobservable!”

February 12, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm


This talk will highlight our work over the past decade on controlling robots by giving them simple rules to reflect off of obstacles in their environment. This line of work pushes the extreme limits of minimalism and is suitable for scenarios where there are limited sensing and actuation capabilities, such as consumer security robots and nanorobotics. We take heavy inspiration from dynamical billiards, a branch of mathematics pioneered by Hadamard, Artin, Sinai, and others, but adapt the bouncing laws to models that are easily achievable by robots and are amenable to algorithmic analysis. Our results include basic conditions for attractors and limit cycles, simple achievement of linear-temporal logic specifications, visibility-based algorithmic analysis, and demonstrations on embarrassingly cheap robot systems. An abundance of simple, open problems remain in this area.


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Steven M. LaValle is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, in Particular Robotics and Virtual Reality, at the University of Oulu, Finland. From 2001 to 2018, he was a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois. He has also held positions at Stanford University and Iowa State University. His research interests include robotics, virtual reality, sensor fusion, planning algorithms, computational geometry, and control theory. In research, he is mostly known for his introduction of the Rapidly exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm, which is widely used in robotics and other engineering fields. He also authored the books Planning Algorithms, Sensing and Filtering, and Virtual Reality.

With regard to industry, he was an early founder and chief scientist of Oculus VR, acquired by Facebook for $3 billion in 2014, where he developed patented tracking technology for consumer virtual reality and led a team of perceptual psychologists to provide principled approaches to virtual reality system calibration, health and safety, and the design of comfortable user experiences. From 2016 to 2017, he was a Vice President and Chief Scientist of VR/AR/MR at Huawei Technologies, where he was a leader in consumer product development on a global scale.


February 12, 2021
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
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