MAE Seminar: Safety-critical Control of Dynamic Robotic Systems

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Aaron D. Ames

Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and Control and Dynamical Systems
California Institue of Technology

Abstract: Science fiction has long promised a world of robotic possibilities: from humanoid robots in the home, to wearable robotic devices that restore and augment human capabilities, to swarms of autonomous robotic systems forming the backbone of cities of the future, to robots enabling exploration of the cosmos. With the idea of ultimately achieving these capabilities with robotic systems, this talk will present a unified control framework for realizing dynamic behaviors in an efficient, provably correct and safety-critical fashion. The application of these ideas will be demonstrated experimentally on a wide variety of robotic systems, including swarms of rolling and flying robots with guaranteed collision-free behavior, bipedal and humanoid robots capable of achieving dynamic walking and running behaviors that display the hallmarks of natural human locomotion, and robotic-assistive devices aimed at restoring mobility. The ideas presented will be framed in the broader context of seeking autonomy on robotic systems -- a vision centered on combining able robotic bodies with intelligent artificial minds.

Bio: Aaron D. Ames is the Bren Professor of mechanical and civil engineering and control and dynamical systems at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Caltech, Ames was an associate professor in mechanical engineering and electrical & computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Ames received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of St. Thomas in 2001. He received a master's in mathematics and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer sciences from UC Berkeley in 2006. He served as a postdoctoral scholar in control and dynamical systems at Caltech from 2006 to 2008 and began his faculty career at Texas A&M University in 2008. At UC Berkeley, he was the recipient of the 2005 Leon O. Chua Award for achievement in nonlinear science and the 2006 Bernard Friedman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics. Ames received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 and is the recipient of the 2015 Donald P. Eckman Awared, recognizing an outstanding young engineer in the field of automatic control. His research interests span the areas of robotics, nonlinear control and hybrid systems with a special focus on applications to bipedal robotic walking -- both formally and through experimental validation. His lab designs, builds and tests novel bipedal robots, humanoids and prostheses with the goal of achieving human-like bipedal robotic locomotion and translating these capabilities to robotic-assistive devices. The application of these ideas range from increased autonomy in robots to improving the locomotion capabilities of the mobility impaired.