Invited Speakers

Radhika Nagpal
Harvard University, USA

DARS2010 invited talk: Termites, Starfish, and Robot Collectives

Abstract: Biological systems, from embryos to social insects, get tremendous mileage by having vast numbers of cheap and unreliable individuals cooperate to achieve complex goals. We are also rapidly building new kinds of distributed systems with similar characteristics, from multi-modular robots and robot swarms, to vast sensor networks. Can we engineer collective systems to achieve the kind of complexity and self-repair that nature seems to achieve? In this talk, I will describe several ongoing projects from my group where we use inspiration from nature -- termites, starfish, and cells -- to design collective robotic systems. For example, simple mobile robots that collectively build structures without explicit communication, self-adaptive modular robots that respond to the environment, and low-cost swarm robots that could self-assemble large-scale shapes. In each case, we use inspiration from biology to design simple decentralized cooperation, and techniques from computer science to analyze and generalize these algorithms to new tasks. A common theme in all of our work is understanding self-organizing multi-agent systems: how does robust collective behavior arise from many locally interacting agents, and how can we systematically program simple agents to achieve the global behaviors we want.

Bio: Radhika Nagpal is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University. She received her PhD degree in Computer Science from MIT, and spent a year as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. She is a recipient of the 2005 Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship award, the 2007 NSF Career award and the 2010 Borg Early Career Award. Her research interests are biologically-inspired engineering principles for multi-agent systems and computational models multicellular biology.
Raffaello D’Andrea
ETH Zurich, Switzerland & Kiva Systems, USA

DARS2010 invited talk: Some applications of distributed estimation and control

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss several applications of distributed estimation and control: Kiva Systems, a company that uses hundreds of mobile robots to move inventory in distribution facilities; the Balancing Cube, a structure that can balance on any one of its edges or corners using six rotating mechanisms on the cube's inner faces; the Distributed Flight Array, a flying platform consisting of multiple autonomous single propeller vehicles that are able to drive, dock with their peers, and fly in a coordinated fashion; the Flying Machine Arena, a research-driven airspace where vehicles teach themselves -- and each other -- how to fly.

Bio: Raffaello D'Andrea is Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich and Technical Co-Founder of Kiva Systems, a company that develops adaptive and self-configuring warehouse automation systems using hundreds of networked, mobile robots. Also a creator of dynamic sculpture, he has shown his work at international venues including the Venice Biennale, the Luminato Festival, Ars Electronica, and ideaCity; two of his pieces are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Haruhisa Kurokawa
AIST, Japan

DARS2010 invited talk: Survey of modular robotics as DARS research

Abstract: Modular robotics has been widely researched over the past 20 years. Modular robots, especially self-reconfigurable ones, have many research topics in common with other research of DARS. Currently, however, most of the claimed prospects seem unfinished dreams. For example, only simple scalability has been obtained. Scalability and fault tolerance is far more difficult to attain by a physical system than an information system, and simple and quantitative scalability, even if attained, will not lead to qualitative one enabling graceful degradation. Joining forces of multiple modules is another difficult problem, though such an ability is indispensable to most robots. Applications of modular robots, especially of lattice-type systems, have not been clear. Endoluminal inspection and surgery will be a good application, but centralized or manual control is better suited for such. The history of modular robotics, with achievements and problems, can anyhow contribute to future DARS research such as in micro or nano scale, and the research, mainly ours, is surveyed in this talk.

Bio: Haruhisa Kurokawa received M.E. in Precision Machinery Engineering in 1981, and Dr. degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1997, both from the University of Tokyo. He is currently Senior Researcher of the Field Robotics Research Group, Intelligent Systems Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan. He worked as the general chair of DARS2008. His main research subjects are kinematics of mechanisms, control in space, distributed autonomous systems and nonlinear control.
Gaurav S. Sukhatme
University of Southern California, USA

Joint DARS2010 and EESS (Environmental Engineering Seminar Series) invited talk: Monitoring the Coastal Ocean using Underwater Networked Robots: Algorithms and Experiments

Abstract: We describe recent progress in systems and algorithms for underwater robots with applications to the monitoring of the coastal ocean. We describe a new algorithm for area coverage with a strong theoretical guarantee and a data fusion method for a communication-constrained underwater multi-robot system. Experimental results from sea trials (~6 weeks) will be presented. We also give a brief overview of the underlying systems infrastructure that we have built to support the experiments and field trials.

Bio: Gaurav S. Sukhatme is a Professor of Computer Science (joint appointment in Electrical Engineering) at the University of Southern California (USC). He received his undergraduate education at IIT Bombay in Computer Science and Engineering, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from USC. He is the co-director of the USC Robotics Research Laboratory and the director of the USC Robotic Embedded Systems Laboratory which he founded in 2000. His research interests are in multi-robot systems, robot networks and aquatic robots. He has published over 200 papers in these and related areas. Sukhatme has served as PI on numerous NSF, DARPA and NASA grants. He is a Co-PI on the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS), an NSF Science and Technology Center. He is a senior member of the IEEE, and a member of AAAI and the ACM. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the Okawa foundation research award. He has served on many conference program committees, and is one of the founders of the Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) conference. He was one of the program chairs of the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) and is the program chair of the 2010 IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) conference. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Autonomous Robots. He has served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, and on the editorial board of IEEE Pervasive Computing.
dario floreano Dario Floreano
Director of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Robotics
EPFL, Switzerland

Invited talk for the Gala dinner : Swiss Robotics

Abstract: In this short presentation, I will take the opportunity to overview the current trends and activities in robotics at EPFL and in Switzerland, especially focusing on the new Swiss National Center in Robotics and its planned activities.

Bio: Prof. Dario Floreano is Director of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the School of Engineering and Director of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Robotics in Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). He received an M.A. in Cognitive Science from University of Trieste (Italy) in 1988, an M.S. in Neural Computation from the University of Stirling (UK) in 1991, and a PhD in Evolutionary Robotics in 1995 from University of Trieste (Italy), all of them with distinction. In 1996 he was appointed senior researcher at the Department of Computer Science of EPFL where he established the Robot Learning group. In 1998 he was invited researcher at Sony Computer Science Labs in Tokyo. In 2000 he was awarded a Swiss National Science Foundation professorship at EPFL and in 2005 he was appointed associate professor by EPFL and established the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems. His research interests focus on Bio-inspired Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Prof. Floreano is co-founder of the International Society for Artificial Life, Inc., member of the Advisory Group to the European Commission for Future Emerging Technologies, member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Advanced Studies Collegium Budapest, and past-member of the Board of Governors of the International Society for Neural Networks. He published almost 200 peer-reviewed technical papers and edited and co-authored several books, among which Evolutionary Robotics with Stefano Nolfi by MIT Press (hardcover 2000; paperback 2004), Bioinspired Artificial Intelligence with Claudio Mattiussi by MIT Press (2008; Asian edition 2010), and Flying Insects and Robots with Zufferey, Srinivasan, and Ellington by Springer Verlag (2009). He is also cofounder of the company Prof. Floreano delivered more than 100 invited talks worldwide, co-organized more than 10 international conferences, and has been on the editorial board of 10 international journals.