Machine Learning for Robotics: Safety and Performance Guarantees for Learning-Based Control

Speaker: Angela Schoellig , University of Toronto

Date: Friday, April 12, 2019

Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Public: Yes

Location: 32-D463 (Star)

Event Type: Seminar

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Host: Alberto Rodriguez & Sangbae Kim

Contact: Stephen Proulx,

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Reminder Subject: TALK: Machine Learning for Robotics: Safety and Performance Guarantees for Learning-Based Control

Abstract: The ultimate promise of robotics is to design devices that can physically interact with the world. To date, robots have been primarily deployed in highly structured and predictable environments. However, we envision the next generation of robots (ranging from self-driving and -flying vehicles to robot assistants) to operate in unpredictable and generally unknown environments alongside humans. This challenges current robot algorithms, which have been largely based on a-priori knowledge about the system and its environment. While research has shown that robots are able to learn new skills from experience and adapt to unknown situations, these results have been limited to learning single tasks, and demonstrated in simulation or lab settings. The next challenge is to enable robot learning in real-world application scenarios. This will require versatile, data-efficient and online learning algorithms that guarantee safety when placed in a closed-loop system architecture. It will also require to answer the fundamental question of how to design learning architectures for dynamic and interactive agents. This talk will highlight our recent progress in combining learning methods with formal results from control theory. By combining models with data, our algorithms achieve adaptation to changing conditions during long-term operation, data-efficient multi-robot, multi-task transfer learning, and safe reinforcement learning. We demonstrate our algorithms in vision-based off-road driving and drone flight experiments, as well as on mobile manipulators.

Bio: Angela Schoellig is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and an Associate Director of the Centre for Aerial Robotics Research and Education. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning for Robotics and Control, is a principal investigator of the NSERC Canadian Robotics Network, and is a Faculty Affiliate of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. She conducts research at the intersection of robotics, controls, and machine learning. Her goal is to enhance the performance, safety, and autonomy of robots by enabling them to learn from past experiments and from each other. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship (2017), an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2017), and a Connaught New Researcher Award (2015). She is one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 (2017), a Canada Science Leadership Program Fellow (2014), and one of Robohub’s “25 women in robotics you need to know about (2013)”. Her team won the 2018 North-American SAE AutoDrive Challenge sponsored by General Motors. Her PhD at ETH Zurich (2013) was awarded the ETH Medal and the Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation Award. She holds both an M.Sc. in Engineering Cybernetics from the University of Stuttgart (2008) and an M.Sc. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the Georgia Institute of Technology (2007). More information can be found at:

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See other events that are part of the Robotics@MIT Seminar Series 2019.

Created by Stephen Proulx Email at Tuesday, April 09, 2019 at 10:27 AM.