Spring 2019 GRASP Seminar Series: Ruta Desai, CMU, "How can computational techniques help solve complex design problems?"

ABSTRACT

Computational techniques involving modeling, simulation, and numerical optimization have supported research and development for years. In this talk, I will show how some of these techniques can be leveraged for simplifying complex design problems in the field of robotics.

In particular, I will present design tools that take advantage of these techniques, and enable novices to design physical structure and functional behavior of diverse robotic devices. With the help of parameterized domain-specific models and physics-based simulation that can encode complex design aspects, these tools democratize the robot design process. These tools also incorporate efficient algorithms that can search high-dimensional design spaces at interactive rates for user-preferred solutions, and provide easy-to-use visual interfaces that can support user-in-the-loop interactive design. As a validation of capabilities of these tools, I will show various fabricated robot prototypes and results of user-studies conducted with novices. By supporting rapid creation of custom robots for the people and by the people, these tools help take a step towards the future of ubiquitous robotics, wherein robots would be integrated in daily human life just as smart phones and computers are today. 

Presenter's biography

Ruta Desai is a research scientist at Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) in Redmond. She obtained her PhD at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) working with Prof. Stelian Coros and Prof. Jim McCann. She works at the intersection of HCI, Robotics, and Computational Design and is interested in applying optimization and data-driven techniques to solve complex real-world problems. At FRL, she is exploring such computational approaches for contextual and adaptive augmented reality. For her PhD thesis, she devised design tools that enable casual users to build robots, towards increasing accessibility of robotics. She also holds a master's degree in Robotics from CMU, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from SVNIT, India. She was a recipient of Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship in 2012 and Siebel Scholarship in 2013.