Inside Robotics

Chad Jenkins named Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI)

We are thrilled to become part of the ACM family of journals,” explained THRI Co-Editor-in-Chief Odest Chadwicke Jenkins of the University of Michigan. “ACM’s reputation as a publisher of computing research is unparalleled. At the same time, the broad representation of computing disciplines in the ACM, the organization’s global reach, and platforms such as the Digital Library, are a perfect complement to our own goals for THRI.

Jenkins, along with Co-Editor-in-Chief Selma Šabanović of Indiana University, have set three primary goals for the journal in the coming years, including: 1) Sustaining the intellectual growth of HRI as a field of study (both quantitatively and qualitatively), 2) Enabling timely and productive feedback from readers, and 3) Cultivating new and leading-edge ideas in both robotics and the human-centered sciences

The inaugural issue of the rebranded ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI) is planned for March 2018. Those seeking to submit for the publication, or who have questions for the editors, are encouraged to visit the current HRI Journal website.

The full article.

Yuxiao Chen’s Formal Design Process: Achieving Ever-Greater Balance Between Safety and Performance

The concept of “formal methods”, also know as “correct by construction” is applied to the trajectory planning for mobile robots/small autonomous vehicles. The main challenges are (i) the presence of multiple moving objects (pedestrians, other robots/vehicles), and (ii) plant uncertainties. We aim to address both in our research.

The example publications show a formal design process to deal with multiple moving objects (without considering plant uncertainties). Our method achieves better balance between safety (zero collision!) and performance (the robot does not keep stopping to avoid collisions) compared with other methods from the literature.

Mr. Yuxiao Chen is a U-M graduate student co-advised by Professors Huei Peng and Jessy Grizzle.

UM Roboticist Prof. Ed Olson Stands the Test of Time!

Michigan Robotics is proud to highlight that one of its founding members, Prof. Ed Olson, has made the inaugural list of the Google Scholar “Classic Papers That Have Stood The Test of Time.”  You can find Ed’s paper listed here, and general background for this list is given here.

If you check out Ed on his website, you’ll find that he is withstanding the test of time rather well himself.

Necmiye Ozay Wins Hybrid Systems Prize

For her outstanding work in hybrid systems, a theoretical area very important to robotics, Professor Necmiye Ozay has received a major best paper award. The details of her award are here. Necmiye’s work on Correct-by-Design Control Software Synthesis is aimed at breaking down the barriers that have prevented this field from tackling important industrial problems. In the paper, she and her co-author develop finite abstractions that are equipped with robustness margins, allowing sensing and model imperfections to be addressed in a formally correct manner. They apply the results to Adaptive Cruise Control, an important Automated Drive Assist System, and point out other important applications in robotics and autonomous vehicles.

A new robotic navigation method: Multi-Policy Decision Making (MPDM)

In dynamic environments crowded with people, robot motion planning becomes difficult due to the complex and tightly-coupled interactions between agents. Trajectory planning methods, supported by models of typical human behavior and personal space, often produce reasonable behavior. However, they do not account for the future closed loop interactions of other agents with the trajectory being constructed. As a consequence, the trajectories are unable to anticipate cooperative interactions (such as a human yielding), or adverse interactions (such as the robot blocking the way). We propose a new method – Multi-Policy Decision Making (MPDM) for navigation amongst pedestrians in which the trajectory of the robot is not explicitly planned, but instead, a planning process selects one of a set of closed-loop behaviors whose utility can be predicted through forward simulation.

Read more.

Here is the MPDM presentation by Dhanvin Mehta, Gonzalo Ferrer and Edwin Olson, U-M, Ann Arbor.

Robotics Day 2017

Kevin French, a Ph.D. student in robotics, demonstrates a robotic arm, controlled with a Wii controller, that his group built for the Robotics Day technology showcase that took place Tuesday at the North Campus Research Complex. The event showcases state-of-the-art robotic technologies and educational efforts from universities, school districts, industry and government agencies across Michigan. (Photo by Akhil Kantipuly, College of Engineering)

U-M CSE Graduate Students present papers at ICAPS 2017

CSE graduate students Qi Zhang and Shun Zhang will present exciting research papers at ICAPS 2017, the 27th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, taking place this June at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh PA.

Here are the papers:

Minimizing Maximum Regret in Commitment Constrained Sequential Decision Making

Approximately-Optimal Queries for Planning in Reward-Uncertain Markov Decision Processes


Distinguished Leadership Awardee- Katie Skinner!

Congrats to current Ph.D student Katie Skinner on her Distinguished Leadership Award! 

This award is presented to the outstanding graduate students of the College of Engineering who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the College, University, and community. Katie will be honored at the Leaders and Honors Brunch on March 19th. 

Congrats Katie!



A Shoutout to Two Michigan PhDs in Robotics

Science RoboticsThe research of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics alum Dr. Alireza Ramezani is featured on the February cover of Science Robotics. Dr. Ramezani defended his dissertation, “Feedback Control Design for MARLO, a 3D-Bipedal Robot,” in 2013. 

The U-M Mathematics Department has awarded Hamed Razavi with the 2016 Sumner B. Myers Prize, which honors the best PhD thesis in mathematics.  No award is made unless a thesis is judged to be truly distinguished:
Hamed Razavi, “Symmetry Method for Limit Cycle Walking of Legged Robots”, co-advised by Tony Bloch (Math) and Jessy Grizzle (EECS).
Michigan Daily 2/5/17 article