Julie Shah: Integrating Robots into Team-Oriented Environments

April 8, 2015 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall
Greg Hager


Recent advances in computation, sensing, and hardware enable robotics to perform an increasing percentage of traditionally manual tasks in manufacturing. Yet, often the assembly mechanic cannot be removed entirely from the process. This provides new economic motivation to explore opportunities where human workers and industrial robots may work in close physical collaboration. In this talk, I present the development of new algorithmic techniques for collaborative plan execution that scale to real-world industrial applications. I also discuss the design of new models for robot planning, which use insights and data derived from the planning and execution strategies employed by successful human teams, to support more seamless robot participation in human work practices. This includes models for human-robot team training, which involves hands-on practice to clarify sequencing and timing of actions, and for team planning, which includes communication to negotiate and clarify allocation and sequencing of work. The aim is to support both the human and robot workers in co-developing a common understanding of task responsibilities and information requirements, to produce more effective human-robot partnerships.


Speaker Bio

Julie Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leads the Interactive Robotics Group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Shah received her SB (2004) and SM (2006) from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and her PhD (2010) in Autonomous Systems from MIT. Before joining the faculty, she worked at Boeing Research and Technology on robotics applications for aerospace manufacturing. She has developed innovative methods for enabling fluid human-robot teamwork in time-critical, safety-critical domains, ranging from manufacturing to surgery to space exploration. Her group draws on expertise in artificial intelligence, human factors, and systems engineering to develop interactive robots that emulate the qualities of effective human team members to improve the efficiency of human-robot teamwork. In 2014, Shah was recognized with an NSF CAREER award for her work on “Human-aware Autonomy for Team-oriented Environments,” and by the MIT Technology Review TR35 list as one of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35. Her work on industrial human-robot collaboration was also recognized by the Technology Review as one of the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013, and she has received international recognition in the form of best paper awards and nominations from the International Conference on Auto- mated Planning and Scheduling, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, the International Symposium on Robotics, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Laboratory for Computational Sensing + Robotics