Fall 2014 GRASP Seminar - Kostas Bekris, Rutgers University, "From Foundational Progress In Motion Planning To Credible Co-Robots"

Presenter: Kostas Bekris (Homepage)

Event Dates:
  Friday October 31, 2014 from 11:00am to 12:00pm

Motion planning has progressed over the last couple of decades in addressing complex challenges in robotics. An important milestone was the development of practical sampling-based solutions, for which recently the conditions that allow these methods to achieve asymptotic optimality have been identified. Based on the state-of-the-art, this talk will highlight a series of recent foundational contributions by our research group in this area:
  a) probabilistic near-optimality bounds for sampling-based planners after a finite amount of computation;
  b) small, sparse roadmaps that can quickly return near-optimal paths based on results from graph theory;
  c) optimality guarantees for kinodynamic planning, even when a steering function is not available.
To solve more complex robotics problems, motion planners need to be integrated with higher-level reasoning. This talk will present a framework for the efficient rearrangement of multiple similar objects using a Baxter robot arm. The framework integrates sampling-based algorithms for manipulation with combinatorial solvers for pebble motion graph problems.  The talk will conclude on how such algorithmic, foundational progress together with technological developments, like cloud computing, new compliant arms and capable hands, bring the hope of credible co-robots in terms of i) Collaboration skills when interacting with people or other robots; ii) Resourcefulness when operating in unstructured human spaces and iii) Dexterity in interacting with the environment.

Presenter's Biography:

Kostas Bekris is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University since 2012 and a member of the CBIM center. He received his BS in Computer Science at the University of Crete, Greece and completed his MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science at Rice University, Houston, TX, under the supervision of Prof. Lydia Kavraki.  Between 2008 and 2012 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He works in robotics and his interests include motion planning, especially for systems with dynamics, manipulation, online replanning, motion coordination, as well as applications in cyber-physical systems and simulations. His research group is supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. His research group is also affiliated with DIMACS and the DHS Center of Excellence CCICADA.