Thursday July 15, 2010

Five Robots to Watch

Before we know it, robots will be teaching our children in schools, sitting next to us in nursing homes and fighting for us in battle.

Presenter: Stephanie Gil

Event Dates:
  Wednesday July 14, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

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

This talk concerns the development of a distributed controller that positions a team of aerial vehicles in a configuration to optimize communication-link quality, providing support to a team of ground vehicles performing a collaborative task. We propose a gradient based control approach where agents’ positions locally minimize a physically motivated cost function.

Presenter's Biography:

Stephanie Gil is a PhD candidate with Prof. Daniela Rus in the Distributed Robotics Lab at MIT. Her research interests are in multi-robot control, distributed optimization of ad hoc communication networks, and space robotics. She completed her MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and her BS in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell, where she also worked on the NASA Mars Exploration Rover team.

Event Date(s):
  Sunday October 24, 2010 at 9:00am

USA Science & Engineering Festival

Event Date(s):
  Saturday October 23, 2010 at 9:00am

USA Science & Engineering Festival

Monday June 21, 2010

The GRASP Lab video of autonomous flying robots is New Scientist's pick for the number one video of the month, with nearly a million views, on New Scientist TV - Best of the Web. View Original Video.

Presenter: David Hu (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday June 18, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

* Alternate Location: Wu and Chen Auditorium*

Snakes propel themselves over land using a variety of techniques, including sidewinding, lateral sinuous slithering and a unidirectional accordion-like mode. We explore these friction-based propulsion mechanisms through a combined experimental and theoretical investigation. Particular attention is given to classifying the gaits of snakes according to Froude number and the relative magnitudes of the frictional forces in the tangential and normal directions.

Presenter's Biography:

David Hu is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech.  Previously, he served as an instructor at New York University and as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2001 B.S. mechanical engineering, 2005 Ph.D. Mathematics).  His lab studies animal locomotion using an array of techniques from interface science (friction and surface tension). Their work has been featured in The Economist, Nature, The New York Times, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic.  This month, their work on snakes is discussed in American Scientist.

Thursday June 10, 2010

The World Cup gets under way Friday, but the injured player was practicing for another international tournament this month: RoboCup. Soccer played by robots. No water breaks required.

Presenter: Davide Scaramuzza (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Tuesday July 20, 2010 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

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

Cameras are having a large impact on our society, every cell-phone is equipped with a camera and in the very near future all cars will feature cameras to improve traffic safety and even clothing will be equipped with integrated cameras. While cameras are continuing to pervade our daily lives, optics developers are working on increasing the field of view of the cameras. If the field of view of a camera exceeds 180 degrees, it is called an omnidirectional camera. Up until three years ago, these cameras were too heavy, expensive, and bulky to be integrated in commercial products.

Presenter's Biography:

Davide Scaramuzza (1980, Italian) received his PhD (February 2008) in Computer Vision and Robotics at the ETH Zurich. His PhD thesis won the Robotdalen Scientific Award, which is the most prestigious award for PhD theses in the field of Robotics and Automation. He is currently post-doctoral Fellow at the ETH Zurich, where he is leader and scientific manager of the European project "sFly", which focuses on autonomous navigation of micro helicopters in urban environments using vision as a main sensor modality. Davide is a lecturer of the Master course "Autonomous Mobile Robots" at the ETH Zurich and leader of the ETH-Maverick team which won the 2nd place at the international competition of Micro Aerial Vehicles in September 2009 with the first purely vision based autonomous helicopter. He is also author of the 2nd edition of the textbook "Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots" (MIT Press), along with Roland Siegwart (ETH) and Illah Nourbakhsh (CMU), which will appear in late 2010. Finally, Davide is author of the first open-source Omnidirectional Camera Calibration Toolbox for MATLAB which, besides thousands of downloads worldwide, is also currently used at NASA, Philips, Bosch, Daimler, and Chrysler.

Friday May 28, 2010

We don't know whether we should be terrified or overjoyed. We've just come across a video demo from the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab that shows an autonomous quadrotor helicopter performing "precise aggressive maneuvers." And trust us when we say, nothing in the foregoing sentence is an overstatement -- the thing moves with the speed and grace of an angry bee, while accompanied by the perfectly menacing whine of its little engine. See this work of scientific art in motion after the break.

Presenter: Xu Chu Ding (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Wednesday May 19, 2010 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 315 (3330 Walnut Street)*

In this work, we provide a real-time algorithmic optimal control framework for autonomous switched systems. Traditional optimal control approaches for autonomous switched system are open-loop in nature. Therefore, the switching times of the system can not be adjusted or adapted when the system parameters or the operational environments change. We aim to close this loop, and apply adaptations to the optimal switching strategy based on new information that can only be captured on-line.

Presenter's Biography:

Xu Chu Ding received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, in 2004, 2007 and 2009, respectively. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Boston University in the department of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include optimal control of hybrid systems, coordination and control of multi-agent networked systems, and intelligent and persistent surveillance with a network of mobile agents.