Congratulations to promoted Robotics faculty of 2019

May 17, 2019
Recently promoted associate professor Necmiye Ozay, works with former graduate student Lars Petter Nilsson, in a tech-heavy driverless car at Mcity. Photo by Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering.

At yesterday’s May 2019 University of Michigan Board of Regents’ meeting, several Core and Affiliated Robotics faculty were approved for promotions to associate and full professors, both with tenure.

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Robotics Interfaces seminars exhibit deep connections across fields

April 9, 2019
Roland Snooks presenting
At the first Robotics Interfaces seminar, Roland Snooks, Associate Professor of RMIT Melbourne, presents “Behavioral Prototypes.”

Beginning in 2018, Talia Moore, a postdoctoral fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology, with the help of Shai Revzen, Robotics core faculty, organized partnerships between Robotics and departments around the university to invite speakers whose research demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of the field, creating the “Robotics Interfaces” seminar series.

Talks have spanned research on how ants navigate to 3D printing in architecture and fashion. Despite the various origins of such research, such as biology, architecture, or design, all presented topics have implications for robotics. For example, Barbara Webb’s research of navigation in ants includes building computational models of the ant’s neural processing. She then uses these models to test and replicate the navigational behavior in small, ant-like robots.

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A2Sys Lab takes first in firefighting drone competition

April 2, 2019
A2Sys Lab poses with award money
Ella Atkins, Jeremy Castagno, Prince Kuevor, and Matthew Romano won the 2019 Swarm & Search AI Challenge held in Dayton, Ohio over March 29-31, 2019. Photo courtesy A2Sys Lab.

Last year, California experienced the single largest wildfire in its recorded history, a wildfire in Greece killed 100, and wildfires in the British Columbia surpassed the historic proportions seen only the year before. Water and firebreaks can fight immediate threats, but improved mapping and better planning in deploying such resources can maximize impact and minimize risk, reducing the impact of fires over an entire season.

One way to improve mapping and firefighting plans? Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and algorithms that allow them to operate autonomously.

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Director’s Letter from Jessy Grizzle

August 23, 2016

What is Michigan Robotics all about?

In three words, we are ALGORITHMS IN MOTION.

We are a team of roboticists and faculty with related expertise who are deeply grounded in the science and fundamentals that produce breakthroughs in robotics, now and in the future. We are fully committed to the balance of theory and practice, where ideas are fleshed out on the whiteboard and in simulations — and then tested in real hardware. Before we share our work with you, our peers and the public, we’ve given it a pretty thorough going over in house. We believe that confronting both theory and hardware is critical in the training of the next generation of leaders.

All of us have seen the sped-up videos of robots picking up objects or walking across uneven terrain — a sure sign that the state of robotics is yet not up to the task of dealing with the real world. A driving force in our work is ROBOTS THAT MOVE AT THE SPEED OF LIFE. We are developing the science and technology for robots that work quickly, safely and efficiently alongside humans, outside the laboratory, “or in the wild,” as we like to say.

The core of autonomy is the ability to handle the unknown — explore previously unmapped environments, dexterously manipulate new objects, and recover from unexpected situations, accidents and malfunctions. We attack the problem from all angles, an approach we call FULL SPECTRUM AUTONOMY.

It is much easier to get the top layer in the autonomy spectrum — whether AI or Deep Learning methods — working on a machine that can already reliably execute  a rich set of motion primitives. This lower level of the autonomy spectrum typically relies on modeling, optimization, and feedback control methods, integrated with active perception, be it vision or LIDAR or something else entirely.

But none of this makes much sense unless the machine can carry sufficient energy onboard to complete a task. Michigan Robotics researchers also explore completely different notions of autonomy, optimizing robot hardware for mechanical and electromechanical efficiency. Full spectrum autonomy covers the highest levels of reasoning to the lowest level servo loops, active perception, and robotic mechanisms themselves, with the bottom line being:


Jessy Grizzle

Jessy Grizzle
Director, Michigan Robotics
Elmer G. Gilbert Distinguished University Professor
Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering