Keynote Speakers

Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Max Planck Institute
Tues. June 26, 11:00

Title: Telerobotic Touch

Abstract: Today's robots developed from mechanical master-slave devices that enabled a human to capably manipulate hazardous items from a behind a safety barrier. When creating modern teleoperation systems for work across different length scales and inter-site distances, one cannot simply replace the mechanical teleoperator connection with an electrical or computational one: making the slave robot track the master interface is straightforward, but letting the operator feel forces and torques from the remote site tends to drive the loop unstable. The consequently common approach of omitting haptic feedback severely limits the utility of such systems, particularly for new users. My team has addressed the absence of telerobotic touch feedback from several perspectives, repeatedly demonstrating that naturalistic tactile cues (as opposed to the kinesthetic cues that are typically studied) greatly enhance system usability and increase operator performance without compromising stability. This talk will showcase examples from our research on minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery and household robotics while also highlighting related insights about how to endow autonomous robots with haptic intelligence.

Biography: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker directs the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. She was previously an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, where she held the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Endowed Term Chair and a secondary appointment in Computer and Information Science. Kuchenbecker earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 2006 and did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University. Her research centers on haptic interfaces, which enable a user to touch virtual and distant objects as though they were real and within reach, as well as haptic sensing systems, which allow robots to physically interact with objects and people. She delivered a TEDYouth talk on haptics in 2012, and she has received several honors including a 2009 NSF CAREER Award, the 2012 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Academic Early Career Award, a 2014 Penn Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, as well as various best paper and best demonstration awards.

Odest Chadwicke Jenkins
University of Michigan
Tues. June 26, 15:30

Title: Robotics: Making the World a Better Place through Minimal Message-oriented Transport Layers

Abstract: The visions of interconnected heterogeneous autonomous robots in widespread use are a coming reality that will reshape our world. Similar to "app stores" for modern computing, people at varying levels of technical background will contribute to "robot app stores" as designers and developers. However, current paradigms to program robots beyond simple cases remains inaccessible to all but the most sophisticated of developers and researchers. In order for people to fluently program autonomous robots, a robot must be able to interpret user instructions that accord with that user’s model of the world. The challenge is that many aspects of such a model are difficult or impossible for the robot to sense directly. We posit a critical missing component is the grounding of semantic symbols in a manner that addresses both uncertainty in low-level robot perception and intentionality in high-level reasoning. Such a grounding will enable robots to fluidly work with human collaborators to perform tasks that require extended goal-directed autonomy.

I will present our efforts towards accessible and general methods of robot programming from the demonstrations of human users. Our recent work has focused on Semantic Robot Programming (SRP), a declarative paradigm for robot programming by demonstration that builds on semantic mapping. In contrast to procedural methods for motion imitation in configuration space, SRP is suited to generalize user demonstrations of goal scenes in workspace, such as for manipulation in cluttered environments. SRP extends our efforts to crowdsource robot learning from demonstration at scale through messaging protocols suited to web/cloud robotics. With such scaling of robotics in mind, prospects for cultivating both equal opportunity and technological excellence will be discussed in the context of broadening and strengthening Title IX.

Biography: Odest Chadwicke Jenkins, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. Prof. Jenkins earned his B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics at Alma College (1996), M.S. in Computer Science at Georgia Tech (1998), and Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Southern California (2003). He previously served on the faculty of Brown University in Computer Science (2004-15). His research addresses problems in interactive robotics and human-robot interaction, primarily focused on mobile manipulation, robot perception, and robot learning from demonstration. He is a founder of the Robot Web Tools open-source robotics organization. Prof. Jenkins' work has been recognized by a Sloan Research Fellow, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and Young Investigator awards from the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation. Prof. Jenkins is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief for the ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction

Bernardine Dias
Diyunu Consulting, LLC
Wed. June 27, 11:00

Title: Robotics technology for underserved communities: challenges, rewards, and lessons learned

Abstract: Robotics and related technologies are playing an increasingly important role in underserved communities around the world, with impact in diverse areas spanning education, security, mobility, communication, and more. Underserved communities in this context are communities that have not traditionally benefitted directly from the technology innovation process; such as people in the developing world, refugees, and people with disabilities.

Several research groups have been exploring technology solutions to address challenges faced by these underserved communities. Many of these efforts began with partnerships where the technologists were typically from a different community or culture than the beneficiaries of the technology innovations. More recently the diversity of technology innovators has increased, closing the geographical and cultural gaps between innovators and users of technology.

In this talk I will discuss different ways in which robotics is impacting underserved communities. I will draw from over a decade of research in this area to summarize our efforts, challenges, rewards, and lessons learned. I will also highlight a variery of relevant robotics endeavors carried out by researchers in underrepresented communities around the world.

Biography: M. Bernardine Dias, Ph.D., is a roboticist committed to technology innovation that serves disadvantaged people. Dias has decades of experience in a range of robotics research projects, with over a decade of dedicated experience in applying robotics and automation technology to address challenges faced by underserved communities. Her most recent undertaking is the founding and leadership of Diyunu Consulting, LLC that seeks to create innovative technology solutions that progress the world. Dias also served as an Associate Research Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University for over a decade, where she developed international recognition as a lead researcher on a range of topics including assistive technology, educational technology, technology for underserved communities, and autonomous team coordination. At Carnegie Mellon, Dias was primarily affiliated with the Field Robotics Center, where she founded and directed the TechBridgeWorld research group that explored innovative technology solutions in partnership with underserved communities around the globe, and trained over a hundred students to be leaders in TechBridgeWorld’s methodology of compassionate engineering.

Dias has received several honors and awards including the Anita Borg Early Career Award and the Louis Braille Touch of Genius prize for innovation. She actively encourages women in science and technology, and was also a founding member of, and graduate faculty advisor to the women@SCS group at Carnegie Mellon University. She earned her B.A. from Hamilton College, Clinton NY, with a dual concentration in Physics and Computer Science and a minor in Women’s Studies in 1998, followed by a M.S. (2000) and Ph.D. (2004) in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jun Ho Oh
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
Thurs. June 28, 11:00

Title: Robot Technology and the Future

Abstract: World wide, various types of intelligent service robots are being developed and integrated into human environments. In addition, many people expect these robots will be living together with mankind at work or home in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, many people have a pessimistic point of view that the ultimate form of robot would be impossible to realize technologically. And the technology level required to accomplish a task given by the user is very different according to the application requirement. Some simple task may be achieved by simple robotic technology but some others are may not. This means that commercial realization of service robotics strongly depends on the gap between market requirement and the technology level available. This talk will also mention the history of robot development and application of robotics in the various fields

Biography: Prof. Jun Ho Oh received his B.S. and M.S. degree from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea in 1977 and 1979, and a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering in the field of automatic control at U.C. Berkeley in 1985. He is now a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and the director of Humanoid robot research center (Hubo Lab) at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He has performed many industry and government research projects in motion control, sensors, microprocessor applications, and robotics. He is especially interested in mechatronics and system integration. In the last ten years, he completed unique humanoid robot series KHR-1, KHR-2, Hubo, Hubo 2, DRC- Hubo and DRC-Hubo+ and developed Albert Hubo and Hubo FX-1. He is currently working on improving the performance of humanoid robots for faster and more stable walking, robust robot system integration and lightweight design.