New faculty joining Michigan Robotics

June 27, 2024

The Robotics Department at the University of Michigan thrives on the principle that collaboration multiplies the quality and impact of our work, and we’re excited to announce new faculty who each bring their own teaching and research expertise to the program.

Faculty joining us this year and next include:

  • Bernadette Bucher
  • Steven Ceron
  • Xiaoxiao Du
  • Yulun Tian

Read more about each below.

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Katherine Skinner awarded NSF CAREER grant

June 14, 2024
Two researchers on a boat, as one of them points to the sonar data they are collecting on a screen.
Professor Katie Skinner discusses the freshly captured footage of a shipwreck Montana on board of the research vessel R/V Storm in Thunder Bay, Lake Huron. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski.

Katherine (Katie) Skinner, assistant professor of robotics, was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for a project titled “CAREER: Adaptive Multimodal Fusion for Robust Robot Perception in Underwater Environments”, which aims “to provide new capabilities for marine robotic systems to map, visualize, and navigate underwater sites autonomously.”

“These new capabilities will be achieved using innovative machine learning methods to simultaneously capture the robot’s surroundings and pinpoint the robot’s location by combining acoustic and visual information,” the award abstract states. 

“Project outcomes will be demonstrated for use in archaeology by mapping historically significant shipwreck sites. The results will also apply to tasks such as underwater construction, infrastructure maintenance, and emergency response.”

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Nima Fazeli awarded NSF CAREER grant

June 7, 2024
Nima Fazeli in his lab shows visitors a robotic arm equipped with special touch sensors. Photo: Brenda Ahearn/University of Michigan, College of Engineering, Communications and Marketing

Nima Fazeli, assistant professor of robotics, was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for a project “to realize intelligent and dexterous robots that seamlessly integrate vision and touch.”

“Touch provides robots with a wealth of knowledge from physical interactions and in many tasks it is crucial for success (e.g., reaching into a pocket or rummaging in through a grocery bag),” the award abstract states. “Integrating touch with the rapid progress in vision will accelerate the deployment of skilled and reliable robots from research settings into the real-world.”

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Autonomous aquarium: robotic fish swim for social impact

May 23, 2024
Two hands place a robotic fish in an LED-lit aquarium, next to a robot fish already in the water.
A robot fish is placed in an aquarium.

Three University of Michigan students engineered a robotic school of fish prototype, named “Swarm Fish,” as part of their class project in ROB 203: Robotics Mechanisms.

The project, by students Devin Jones, Krystelle Fernandez, and Yatee Balan, is just one example of the many robotics course projects that offer students rigorous hands-on work and prepare student roboticists to meet the emerging needs of society.

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Three recognized for outsized contributions to Robotics in 2023

February 5, 2024
Abhishek Narula and Peter Gaskell sort through a table of Mbot PICO+ chips in the ROB 550 lab.
Abhishek Narula and Peter Gaskell check through an order of Mbot PICO+ chips in the summer before assembling the fall fleet of robots.

Robotics honors staff and faculty who create a welcoming community, exemplify our values, and allow our roboticists to prosper. We recognize such efforts in many ways, including through the College of Engineering Staff Incentive Program and the Robotics Departmental Faculty Award.

The Staff Incentive Program recognizes staff who consistently demonstrate the College’s vision and mission. This initiative is part of the culture pillar of Michigan Engineering’s strategic plan.

This year’s Robotics recipients of the Staff Incentive Program are Abhishek Narula and Samantha Price.

The Departmental Faculty Award recognizes faculty for high impact accomplishments benefiting the Department and the College.

This year’s Robotics Department Faculty Award honors Chad Jenkins.

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