Abstract: Motion planning has application in robotics, animation, virtual prototyping and training, and even for seemingly unrelated tasks such as evaluating architectural plans or simulating protein folding. Surprisingly, sampling-based planning methods have proven effective on problems from all these domains. In this talk, we provide an overview of sampling-based planning and describe some variants developed in our group, including strategies suited for manipulation planning and for user interaction. For virtual prototyping, we show that in some cases a hybrid system incorporating both an automatic planner and haptic user input leads to superior results. Finally, we describe our application of sampling-based motion planners to simulate molecular motions, such as protein and RNA folding.
Bio: Nancy M. Amato is Regents Professor and Unocal Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University where she co-directs the Parasol Lab. Her main areas of research focus are robotics and motion planning, computational biology and geometry, and parallel and distributed computing. She received undergraduate degrees in Mathematical Sciences and Economics from Stanford University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois, respectively. She is Vice President for Member Activities of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and she served as Program Chair for the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) and for Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) in 2016. She is an elected member of the CRA Board of Directors (2014-2017, 2017-2020), was Co-Chair of CRA-Women (2014-2017) and Co-Chair of the NCWIT Academic Alliance (2009-2011), and has served on the Academic Advisory Council of AnitaB.org since 2015.
At Texas A&M, she has served in several leadership roles, including Senior Director for Engineering Honors (2014-present), Interim Department Head (2013-2014), Chair of the Council of Principal Investigators (2009-2010), and Chair of the Alliance for Bioinformatics, Computational and Systems Biology (2007-2013). Her honors include the CRA Habermann Award, the NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award, the IEEE Hewlett-Packard/Harriet B. Rigas Award, and a Texas A&M University-level teaching award. She is a Fellow of the AAAI, AAAS, ACM, and IEEE. https://parasol.tamu.edu/~amato/