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.

Presenter: Pietro Perona (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday November 19, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

The web is not yet perfect: while text is easily searched and organized, pictures (the vast majority of the bits that one can find online) are still digital dark matter. In order to see how one could make pictures first-class citizens of the web, I explore the idea of Visipedia, a visual interface for Wikipedia that is able to answer visual queries and enables experts to contribute and organize visual knowledge. Five distinct groups of humans would interact through Visipedia: users, experts, editors, visual workers, and machine vision scientists.

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Pietro Perona is the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech. He directs Computation and Neural Systems (, a PhD program centered on the study of biological brains and intelligent machines. Professor Perona's research centers on vision. He has contributed to the theory of partial differential equations for image processing and boundary formation, and to modeling the early visual system's function. He is currently interested in visual categories and visual recognition.Dr. Perona's research interests also include Computer Vision: recognition, navigation, human-computer interfaces, texture analysis, multiresolution image analysis, diffusions and Human Vision: perception of shape-from-shading, perception of texture and models of early vision.

Thursday October 28, 2010

Mechanical engineer Katherine Kuchenbecker tells a story about one of the most compelling videos she’s ever seen about the sense of touch.....

Wednesday October 27, 2010


Engineering professor invited to appear on Colbert Report


This week, a Penn professor helped Stephen Colbert in his quest to “keep fear alive.”

Presenter: Sangbae Kim (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday October 29, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Mobile robot designers are increasingly searching for inspirations and design cues from biological models. Biomechanics research of animals provides an invaluable source of ideas for legged robot design but the process of implementation involves great complexity. The direct implementation of biological features and morphology often becomes ineffective and misleads engineers due to various reasons.

Presenter's Biography:

Sangbae Kim is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the director of Biomimetic Robotics Lab at MIT. His research focuses on bio-inspired robotic system design based on biotensegrity structure, composite structure manufacturing, and legged system control. His design approaches highlight the importance of understanding the difference between biological systems and counterparts of engineering systems by careful observations and embodiment of the principles. Kim’s achievement on bio-inspired robot development includes the world‘s first directional adhesive based on gecko lizards, and a climbing robot, Stickybot, that utilizes the directional adhesives to climb smooth surfaces. He received the Best Paper Award for the IEEE Transactions on Robotics 2008 and the Best Student Paper Award at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2007. His bio-inspired climbing robot was selected as one of the best inventions in Time magazine in 2006 and also featured in more than 100 media exposures including Forbes magazine, Wired Science, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel. Kim received his B.S. in Mechanical engineering from Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea. He earned his Ph.D. in M.E. from Stanford University, in 2008 and joined MIT in 2009.