Presenter: Jorge Cortes (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday April 1, 2011 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

This talk considers optimal deployment problems for networks of autonomous robotic sensors and examines their connection with spatial estimation.  Given a spatial random field over a region of interest, robotic sensors can improve the efficiency of data collection, adapt to changes in the environment, and provide a robust response to individual failures.  We illustrate ways in which systems and control can help us design coordination algorithms to cooperatively optimize data collection, minimize the uncertainty of the estimation, account for individual failures in communication, a

Presenter's Biography:

Jorge Cortes is an Associate Professor with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. He received the Licenciatura degree in mathematics from the Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, in 1997, and the Ph.D. degree in engineering mathematics from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain, in 2001. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Twente, The Netherlands, and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 2004 to 2007.  He is the author of "Geometric, Control and Numerical Aspects of Nonholonomic Systems" (New York: Springer-Verlag, 2002) and co-author of "Distributed Control of Robotic Networks" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).  He received a NSF CAREER award in 2006 and was the recipient of the 2006 Spanish Society of Applied Mathematics Young Researcher Prize. He has co-authored papers that have won the 2008 IEEE Control Systems Outstanding Paper Award and the 2009 SIAM Review SIGEST selection from SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization. He is a IEEE Control Systems Society Distinguished Lecturer (2010-2012).

Presenter: Zhengyou Zhang (Homepage)

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

With the launch of Microsoft Kinect sensors for Xbox 360, depth cameras are becoming affordable for the vision and robotics communities because the mass game market drives the cost down. This could present a revolution in our research. Previously very difficult vision tasks with video cameras become easier, such as foreground-background separation. However, there still exist many challenges. In this talk, I will present some research projects conducted at Microsoft Research, related to human activity understanding with depth sensors.

Presenter's Biography:

Zhengyou Zhang is a Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, USA, and manages the multimodal collaboration research team. Before joining Microsoft Research in March 1998, he was with INRIA (French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), France, for 11 years and was a Senior Research Scientist from 1991. In 1996-1997, he spent a one-year sabbatical as an Invited Researcher with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), Kyoto, Japan. He has published over 200 papers in refereed international journals and conferences, and has coauthored the following books: 3-D Dynamic Scene Analysis: A Stereo Based Approach (Springer-Verlag, 1992); Epipolar Geometry in Stereo, Motion and Object Recognition (Kluwer, 1996); Computer Vision (Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1998, 2003, in Chinese); Face Detection and Adaptation (Morgan and Claypool, 2010), and Face Geometry and Appearance Modeling (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He has given a number of keynotes in international conferences.

Dr. Zhang is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Computer Vision, and an Associate Editor of Machine Vision and Applications. He served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence from 2000 to 2004, an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Multimedia from 2004 to 2009, among others. He has been chairs or members of the program committees for numerous international conferences in the areas of autonomous mental development, computer vision, signal processing, multimedia, and human-computer interaction. More information is available at

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.