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Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 1.20.37 PMPervasive Personal Robots

Ankur Mehta
Computer Science and Artifical Intelligence Laboratories, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Monday, February 23, 2015
9:30 a.m.
Goldwater Center (GWC) 487, Tempe campus [map]

Creating and using new robotic systems has typically been limited to experts, requiring engineering background, expensive tools, and considerable time. Instead, Mehta is working to create systems to automatically design, fabricate, and control functional robots from a simple description of the problem at hand. By enabling the ondemand creation of integrated electromechanical systems by casual everyday users, we can get to a point where we can say for any real-world task, “there’s a robot for that.”

Mehta has moved towards this vision with a system that can easily create programmed printable robots from high-level task descriptions. A softwaredefined- hardware abstraction allows the algorithmic compilation of fabricable subsystem designs from a structural specification; this is in turn generated from a user assisted grounding of a Structured English behavioral specification. The compiled designs are then manufactured using novel printable manufacturing processes, and programmed with autogenerated code. Advanced wireless protocols and communication hardware enable swarms of such robots to interact with each other and users. In this way, fully functional printable robots can be quickly and cheaply designed, fabricated, and controlled to solve custom tasks by casual users.

Ankur is a postdoc in the Distributed Robotics group at MIT with Professor Daniela Rus. Pushing towards his vision of a future with robots pervading all aspects of everyday life, his current work focuses on creating a compiler to automatically create custom robots. His system and its generated robots have won recognition as the AFRON Ultra Affordable Educational Robot Project winner and the IROS 2014 best paper.

He completed his graduate degree under Prof. Kris Pister at UC Berkeley as a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellow and a Berkeley Fellowship recipient. His PhD work spanned a number of fields, including low power wireless sensor networks, autonomous helicopter and rocket control, and MEMS design.

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