Presenter: Steve LaValle (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday September 26, 2014 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Using the latest technology, we can safely hijack your most trusted senses, thereby fooling your brain into believing you are in another world. Virtual reality (VR) has been around for a long time, but due to the recent convergence of sensing, display, and computation technologies, there is an unprecedented opportunity to explore this form of human augmentation with lightweight, low-cost materials and simple software platforms.

Presenter's Biography:

Steve LaValle started working with Oculus VR in September 2012, a few days after their successful Kickstarter campaign, and was the head scientist up until the Facebook acquisition in March 2014. He developed perceptually tuned head tracking methods based on IMUs and computer vision. He also led a team of perceptual psychologists to provide principled approaches to virtual reality system calibration and the design of comfortable user experiences. In addition to his continuing work at Oculus, he is also Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois, where he joined in 2001. He has worked in robotics for over 20 years and is known for his introduction of the Rapidly exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm of motion planning and his 2006 book, Planning Algorithms.

Presenter: GRASP Faculty Members (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday September 5, 2014 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Dan Ueda (GRASP Education & Outreach)

Dr. Mark Yim (presented by Matt Piccoli)

Dr. CJ Taylor

Dr. Jianbo Shi (presented by Jihua Huang)

Presenter: Julie Shah (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday September 19, 2014 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Recent advances in computation, sensing, and hardware enable robotics to perform an increasing percentage of traditionally manual tasks in manufacturing. Yet, often the assembly mechanic cannot be removed entirely from the process. This provides new economic motivation to explore opportunities where human workers and industrial robots may work in close physical collaboration. In this talk, I present the development of new algorithmic techniques for collaborative plan execution that scale to real-world industrial applications.

Presenter's Biography:

Julie Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leads the Interactive Robotics Group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Shah received her SB (2004) and SM (2006) from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and her PhD (2010) in Autonomous Systems from MIT. Before joining the faculty, she worked at Boeing Research and Technology on robotics applications for aerospace manufacturing. She has developed innovative methods for enabling fluid human-robot teamwork in time-critical, safety-critical domains, ranging from manufacturing to surgery to space exploration. Her group draws on expertise in artificial intelligence, human factors, and systems engineering to develop interactive robots that emulate the qualities of effective human team members to improve the efficiency of human-robot teamwork. Shah is the recipient of a 2014 NSF CAREER Award, and her work was recognized by the Technology Review as one of the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013. She has received international recognition in the form of best paper awards and nominations from the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, and the International Symposium on Robotics.

Friday June 13, 2014

As reported by Agence France-Presse in the Bangkok Post, check out the video,


In Yahoo! Sports...Football-playing robots eye their own cup, and beyond

Presenter: Jun Seo (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday June 20, 2014 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm

* Alternate Location: Towne 337*

In this talk, I will present my research on robotic grasping and assembling: how to enable robots to grasp objects and assemble target structures autonomously. They are fundamental problems in robotic manipulation where we have robots rearrange our environment; they can be applied to a wide range of scenarios such as manufacturing, disaster response, space exploration, and assisted living. Modular robot platforms can facilitate the problems with versatility and robustness.

Presenter's Biography:

Jun Seo is a Ph.D. candidate working in the GRASP Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. He is advised by Dr. Vijay Kumar and Dr. Mark Yim. Jun's research interests include robotic grasping/manipulation and robotic self-assembly/reconfiguration; he has been investigating theoretical and practical issues relating to the design of software and hardware for the problems. He received the B.S. degree from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.

Presenter: Zhengyou Zhang (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Monday May 19, 2014 from 1:30pm to 2:30pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 307*

We describe a system that augments touch input with visual understanding of the user to improve interaction with a large touch-sensitive display. A commodity color plus depth sensor such as Microsoft Kinect adds the visual modality and enables new interactions beyond touch. Through visual analysis, the system understands where the user is, who the user is, and what the user is doing even before the user touches the display. Such information is used to enhance interaction in multiple ways.

Presenter's Biography:

Zhengyou Zhang received the B.S. degree in electronic engineering from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, in 1985, the M.S. degree in computer science from the University of Nancy, Nancy, France, in 1987, the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Paris XI, Paris, France, in 1990, and the Doctorate of Science (Habilitation à diriger des recherches) from the University of Paris XI, Paris, France, in 1994.

He is a Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, USA, and the Research Manager of the “Multimedia, Interaction, and Communication” group. 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 is also an Affiliate Professor with the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, and an Adjunct Chair Professor with Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. 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). His 1999 paper on camera calibration won the Helmholtz Test of Time Award at ICCV 2013.  He has given a number of keynotes in international conferences and invited talks in universities.

Dr. Zhang is an IEEE Fellow, an ACM Fellow, the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Computer Vision, an Associate Editor of Machine Vision and Applications, and an Area Editor of the Journal of Computer Science and Technology. 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, an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence from 1997 to 2009, among others. He served as Area Chair,  Program Chair, or  General Chair of a number of international conferences, including recently a Program Co-Chair of the International Conference on Multimedia and Expo (ICME), July 2010, a Program Co-Chair of the ACM International Conference on Multimedia (ACM MM), October 2010, a Program Co-Chair of the ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI), November 2010, and a General Co-Chair of the IEEE International Workshop on Multimedia Signal Processing (MMSP), October 2011 and September 2014. He served as a founding Chair of a new track “Technical Briefs” of the ACM SIGGRAPH Asia Conference, Nov. 28 – Dec. 1st, 2012.

Presenter: Dr. Andrzej Banaszuk, Dr. Jason Derenick, Dr. Alberto Speranzon (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday May 16, 2014 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 307*

We will present UTRC’s research initiative in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems with an emphasis on complex human/machine intelligent systems including unmanned rotorcraft. The research, conducted by a diverse team of researchers in robotics, dynamical systems, control, applied mathematics, computer vision, and computer science (in partnership with several leading universities including CMU, MIT, UPenn, and Caltech) includes:

Presenter's Biography:

Andrzej Banaszuk is a Program Leader of Sikorsky Program Office at United Technologies Research Center. Since joining UTRC in 1997, he has conducted research in analysis, design, and control of dynamical systems applied to jet engines, rotorcraft, electric power networks, and buildings. Since 2000 he has led collaborative multi-university research teams in the area of flow control, control of combustion instabilities, robust design of large uncertain dynamic networks, and autonomy. He is an author of 44 journal papers, 71 conference papers, and 9 patents. From 1999 to 2002, he was an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions of Controls Systems Technology. He was appointed to serve on the Board of Governors of IEEE Control Systems Society in 2004.  For his work on active and passive control of flow instabilities in jet engines he received IEEE Controls Systems Technology Award in 2007. He became an IEEE Fellow in 2011. He holds Ph.D. in EE from Warsaw University of Technology and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Jason Derenick is currently a Staff Research Engineer/Scientist at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) where he is as a technical lead for the UTRC/Sikorsky Aircraft (SAC) Joint Program focused upon fielding autonomous rotorcraft.  From 2009-2011, he served as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the GRASP Lab at UPenn as a member of the Multi-Robots Systems Laboratory where he worked upon MAST-CTA.  He received the Ph.D. (2009) and M.Sc. (2005) in Computer Science from Lehigh University.  He is co-recipient of the 2013 George Mead Medallion, which is the highest recognition given by United Technologies Corporation for contributions in engineering.  Among other achievements, his dissertation was awarded the 2009 Elizabeth V. Stout Dissertation Award in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Lehigh.  He was also a key member of the Ben Franklin Racing Team (joining UPenn, Lehigh and Lockheed), whose entry in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge finished 4th place.  His research interests include: scalable optimization for cooperative robotic systems, topological methods, and real-time estimation and perception algorithms for field robotics.

Alberto Speranzon received the ‘‘Laurea’’ degree in computer engineering from University of Padova, Italy in 2000, the Tech. Lic. and Ph.D. in automatic control from the School of Electrical Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Since 2008 he is a Research Scientist at United Technologies Research Center, in East Harford, CT, USA. At UTRC, Alberto served as project manager and principal investigator for DARPA's ASPN program on novel methods for distributed localization of multiple vehicles in GPS degraded/denied environments combining adaptive filtering, graph theoretical and algebraic topological methods. His research interests are mainly in the area of distributed control, estimation and optimization, with particular focus on multi-vehicle systems and wireless sensor networks. Alberto’s received the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2009 from United Technologies Research Center. Before joining UTRC, between October 2006 and September 2008, he was a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Unilever R&D, Port Sunlight, UK. During 2006-2008 he was a regular visitor at University of California at Berkeley, USA working on decentralized estimation over sensor networks.

Presenter: Pratap Tokekar (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Tuesday May 27, 2014 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm

* Alternate Location: Levine 307*

Data collected from the environment is becoming increasingly important for studying complex phenomena. Robotic sensing systems will revolutionize this area by enabling access to data gathered at unprecedented spatio-temporal scales. Environmental science applications, in turn, motivate challenging robotics research problems. In this talk, I will present new algorithms for sensing planning problems motivated by these applications, and the design of robotic monitoring systems developed for two real-world applications.

Presenter's Biography:

Pratap Tokekar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, advised by Volkan Isler. He obtained his Bachelor of Technology degree in Electronics and Telecommunication from College of Engineering Pune, India in 2008. His research interests include algorithmic and field robotics, sensor networks, and computational geometry.

Tuesday April 29, 2014

"Robotics at the University of Pennsylvania" in the Penn News

In this four-part multimedia series, produced by Penn’s Office of University Communications, we explore robotics at Penn in four ways: through the technology, history, education, and real-world applications. Read about technology on April 29, history on May 1, education on May 6, and real-world applications on May 8. Check it out!

Y-Prize 2014 Winner: Emily Plumb (TRHex)