Abstract: Consistency and robustness under extreme conditions are prerequisites to deploy and enable autonomous robotic operations in many application domains, ranging from space exploration to search and rescue, to natural disaster response missions. Extreme conditions include mobility-stressing terrains, perceptually-degraded conditions, and comm-denied environments, to name a few. In this presentation, we will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities in addressing the problem of robotic autonomy under such extreme conditions. We discuss a few representative missions, including NASA’s cave exploration concept missions, the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, and DAPRA RACER for offroad high-speed self-driving cars as robotic missions that push the boundaries of robotic autonomy under extreme conditions. We go over our solution, called NeBula, and discuss NeBula’s algorithmic perspective on enabling robustness in robotic operations that aims at formulating and solving the problem in the “joint probability space” of inference and control. For more details on NeBula, please see the project’s website: https://costar.jpl.nasa.gov/.
Bio: Dr. Ali Agha (Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi) is a Robotics Technologist and Group Leader at NASA JPL’s Autonomous and Robotic Systems Division and Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST). Dr. Agha’s research centers on autonomy and AI for robotic systems with a dual focus on planetary exploration and terrestrial applications. Agha led the Team CoSTAR and the development of the NeBula autonomy solution, which placed 2nd, 1st, and 5th in the three DARPA Subterranean Challenge competitions. Previously, Dr. Agha was with Qualcomm Research, leading the perception efforts for self-flying drones and autonomous cars. Prior to that, Dr. Agha was a Postdoctoral Researcher at MIT. His research interests include artificial intelligence, autonomous decision making, and perception for robotic systems, with applications to legged robots, rovers, drones, and self-driving offroad vehicles. Dr. Agha was named NASA NIAC fellow in 2018 and was a recipient of the Lew Allen Award.
Part of the Illinois Computer Science Speakers Series. Faculty Host: Nancy Amato