Presenter: Richard Voyles (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday March 4, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems are ushering in a new age of engineering design with new techniques and new materials. The old way of design in which we assume decoupled, low-order, block-diagonal models is breaking down at all levels and all scales. This presents numerous problems as our ad hoc design methods are not able to properly account for, test and validate systems of greatly increasing complexity.

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Voyles received the B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1983, the M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 1989, and the Ph.D. in Robotics from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in 1997. He is currently a Program  Director in the Cyber Physical Systems program and Major Research Instrumentation program at the National Science Foundation and a Senior Member of the IEEE. On leave from the University of Denver, Dr. Voyles is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota and a Site Director of the NSF Safety, Security, and Rescue Research Center. Dr.Voyles' research interests are in the areas of cyber physical systems, robotics and artificial intelligence. Specifically, he is interested in the development of small, resource-constrained robots and robot teams for urban search and rescue and surveillance. Dr. Voyles has additional expertise in sensors and sensor calibration, particularly haptic and force sensors, manipulation and real-time control. Dr. Voyles' industrial experience includes Dart Controls, IBM Corp., Integrated Systems, Inc., and Avanti Optics as well as three start-up companies. He has also served on the boards of various start-ups and non-profit groups, including The Works, a hands-on, minds-on engineering discovery center.

Presenter: Pedro Felzenszwalb (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday February 18, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Object detection is one of the fundamental challenges in computer vision.  In this talk I will consider the problem of detecting objects from a generic category, such as people or cars, in static images. This is a difficult problem because objects in such categories can vary greatly in appearance. For example, people wear different clothes and take a variety of poses while cars come in various shapes and colors. We have built an object detection system that addresses this challenge using mixtures of deformable part models.

Presenter's Biography:

Pedro F. Felzenszwalb is an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago.  He received his PhD from MIT in 2003.  His main research interests are in computer vision, geometric algorithms and artificial intelligence.  His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER award received in 2008.  He is currently serving as a program chair for the 2011 IEEE CVPR.  He is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence and an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Computer Vision.  In 2010 he received the IEEE CVPR Longuet-Higgins Prize for fundamental contributions to computer vision and the PASCAL Visual Object Challenge "Lifetime Achievement" prize.

Presenter: Louis Whitcomb (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday February 4, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

This talk reports a brief overview of the Nereus vehicle design, and reviews the initial results of the dives conducted on these expeditions, including two dives to more than 10,900 m depth.  In May/June 2009 Nereus successfully performed scientific observation and sampling operations at hadal depths of 10,903 m on a NSF sponsored expedition to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench – the deepest place on Earth.  In October 2009 the vehicle successfully performed autonomous survey and tel

Presenter's Biography:

Louis L. Whitcomb completed his Ph.D. degree at Yale University in 1992. His research focuses on the dynamics and control of robot systems – including industrial, medical, and underwater robots. Whitcomb is a principal investigator of the Nereus Project.  He is founding Director of the JHU Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics. Whitcomb is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, with secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science, at the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, and Adjunct Scientist, Department of Applied Ocean Physics and EngineeringWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Presenter: Amit Singer (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday April 8, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 307 (3330 Walnut Street)*

Motivated by problems in structural biology, specifically cryo-electron microscopy, we introduce vector diffusion maps (VDM), a new mathematical framework for organizing and analyzing high dimensional data sets, images and shapes. VDM is a mathematical and algorithmic generalization of diffusion maps and other non-linear dimensionality reduction methods, such as LLE, ISOMAP and Laplacian eigenmaps. While existing methods are either directly or indirectly related to the heat kernel for functions over the data, VDM is based on the heat kernel for vector fields.

Presenter's Biography:

Amit Singer is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and a member of the Executive Committee of the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics (PACM) at Princeton University. He joint Princeton as an Assistant Professor in 2008. From 2005 to 2008 he was a Gibbs Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics at the Department of Mathematics, Yale University. Singer received the BSc degree in Physics and Mathematics and the PhD degree in Applied Mathematics from Tel Aviv University (Israel), in 1997 and 2005, respectively. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces during 1997-2003. He was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2010) and the Haim Nessyahu Prize for Best PhD in Mathematics in Israel (2007). His current research in applied mathematics focuses on problems of massive data analysis and structural biology.

Presenter: Xiaolei Huang (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Monday December 20, 2010 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 512 (3330 Walnut Street)*

In this talk, we will present shape registration algorithms based on the implicit distance function representation. In its implicit representation, a shape is embedded in a higher-dimensional space as the zero level set of a distance function. In certain applications like shape registration, the implicit representation has advantages because it provides additional support to the registration process and requires matching of not only the shapes but also their clones that are positioned coherently in the embedding space.

Presenter's Biography:

Xiaolei Huang received her B.E. degree in Computer Science from Tsinghua University, China in 1999, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Rutgers University in 2001 and 2006, respectively. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. Her research interests are in the areas of computer vision, biomedical image analysis, and computer graphics, focusing on registration, segmentation, and deformable model based methods.

Wednesday December 1, 2010

GRASP undergraduate research student, Jessica Wetstone, received an Honorable Mention in the Computing Research Association's Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award competition for 2011!

Event Date(s):
  Friday December 10, 2010 at 1:00pm

Taught by Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker, MEAM 625: Haptic Interfaces, a grad-level class on the science and technology of touch-based interactions for virtual environments, teleoperation, and autonomous robots.  Twenty-eight students have put together eight great projects and will be demonstrating them for you this Friday:

Wednesday November 17, 2010


The University of Pennsylvania finished in second place at the worldwide Multi Autonomous Ground-Robotic International Challenge (MAGIC) 2010 competition, earning the Penn team a research award of $250,000. To compete, the team traveled to Australia, where the event was held in conjunction with the Australian Land Warfare Conference.

Presenter: Dan Lee, Jonathan Butzke, Alex Kushleyev, Cody Phillips & Michael Phillips

Event Dates:
  Friday December 3, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

The MAGIC 2010 challenge required competitors to build, develop, and field robot teams to execute an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission in a dynamic urban environment. In this talk, the UPenn team will discuss and demonstrate the hardware and software solutions that resulted in their second place finish in the challenge  last month.

Presenter: Gunter Niemeyer (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday December 10, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

From the very beginning of robotics and telerobotics, we have envisioned using a robot to be our presence at a second location. This includes seeing what the robot sees, feeling what the robot feels. And it is still true today - operators sooner or later want to feel the remote world. Traditional wisdom suggests feeding back sensor information to the user as directly as possible, making the system as transparent as possible. Yet this has always left us in a tight bind between performance and stability.

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Günter Niemeyer is a senior research scientist at Willow Garage Inc. and a consulting professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His research examines physical human-robotic interactions and interaction dynamics, force sensitivity and feedback, teleoperation with and without communication delays, and haptic interfaces. This involves efforts ranging from realtime motor and robot control to user interface design. Dr. Niemeyer received his M.S. and Ph.D. from MIT in the areas of adaptive robot control and bilateral teleoperation, introducing the concept of wave variables. He also held a postdoctoral research position at MIT developing surgical robotics. In 1997 he joined Intuitive Surgical Inc., where he helped create the daVinci Minimally Invasive Surgical System. This telerobotic system enables surgeons to perform complex procedures through small (5 to 10mm) incisions using an immersive interface and is in use at hundreds of hospitals worldwide. He joined the Stanford faculty in the Fall of 2001, directing the Telerobotics Lab and teaching dynamics, controls, and telerobotics. He has been a member of the Willow Garage research group since 2009.