Robust Motion Planning for Dynamic Robots

Russ Tedrake

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Abstract: Over the last decade we have seen dramatic progress in algorithms for robot motion planning subject to complex geometric constraints, and we have seen a number of fantastic examples of dynamic robots such as Boston Dynamics' BigDog or WildCat. What we haven't seen yet is highly dynamic robots operating in geometrically complex, dynamic, and uncertain environments; achieving this requires tighter integration between motion planning, robust verification, and control. In this talk, I'll describe a recent advances using polynomial optimization that are enabling convex-optimization-based approach to verification and control design for nonlinear systems which are now powerful enough to validate motion planning solutions for dynamic robots. Surprisingly, this polynomial (aka algebraic) view of rigid-body dynamics also extends naturally to systems with frictional contact - a problem which intuitively feels very discontinuous. I will give an overview the theory and algorithms, and demonstrate their application to hard control problems in robotics, including dynamic legged locomotion, humanoids, and robotic birds, then close with some stories and results from the DARPA Robotics Challenge. 

Bio:  Russ is the X Consortium Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and the Director of the Center for Robotics at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the MIT Jerome Saltzer Award for undergraduate teaching, the DARPA Young Faculty Award in Mathematics, the 2012 Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award, and was named a Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellow.Russ received his B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1999, and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2004, working with Sebastian Seung. After graduation, he joined the MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department as a Postdoctoral Associate. During his education, he has also spent time at Microsoft, Microsoft Research, and the Santa Fe Institute. 

March 21, 2014

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