Developing and Deploying Situational Awareness in Autonomous Robotic Systems

Dr. Philip Dames

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Temple University

Nov 10, 2023, 11am – noon, Packard Lab room 466

Abstract: Robotic systems must possess sufficient situational awareness in order to successfully operate in complex and dynamic real-world environments, meaning they must be able to perceive objects in their surroundings, comprehend their meaning, and predict the future state of the environment. In this talk, I will first describe how multi-target tracking (MTT) algorithms can provide mobile robots with this awareness, including our recent results that extend classical MTT approaches to include semantic object labels. Next, I will discuss two key applications of MTT to mobile robotics. The first problem is distributed target search and tracking. To solve this, we develop a distributed MTT framework, allowing robots to estimate, in real time, the relative importance of each portion of the environment, and dynamic tessellation schemes, which account for uncertainty in the pose of each robot, provide collision avoidance, and automatically balance task assignment in a heterogeneous team. The second problem is autonomous navigation through dynamic social spaces filled with people. To solve this, we develop a novel neural network-based controller that takes as its input the target tracks from an MTT, unlike previous approaches which only rely on raw sensor data.

Bio: Philip Dames is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Temple University, where he directs the Temple Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Lab (TRAIL). Prior to joining Temple, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 and his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2010. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award. His research aims to improve robots’ ability to operate in complex, real-world environments to address societal needs.

Philip Dames (Temple University): Developing and Deploying Situational Awareness in Autonomous Robotic Systems