Microsoft Future Leaders in Robotics and AI Seminar Series: Krishna Murthy Jatavallabhula

Friday, March 1, 2024
2:00 p.m.
Online seminar

Expressive robot swarms and multi-human-swarm interaction for social applications

Krishna Murthy Jatavallabhula
Postdoctoral Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Zoom Link


Humans have an innate ability to construct detailed mental representations of the world from limited sensory data. These 'world models' are central to natural intelligence, allowing us to perceive, reason about, and act in the physical world. My research seeks to create 'computational world models' -- artificial intelligence techniques that enable robots to understand and operate in the world around as effectively as humans. Despite the impressive successes of modern machine learning approaches on domains such as text, images, and video---where abundant training data is readily available---these have not translated to robotics. Building generally capable robotic systems presents unique challenges including the lack of data, and the need to adapt learning algorithms to a wide variety of embodiments, environments, and tasks of interest.

In my talk, I will present how my research contributes to the design of computational models for spatial, physical, and multimodal understanding. I will discuss differentiable computing approaches that have advanced the field of spatial perception, enabling an understanding of the structure of the 3D world, its constituent objects, and their semantic and physical properties from videos. I will also detail how my work interfaces advances in large image, language, and audio models with 3D scenes, enabling robots and computer vision systems to flexibly query these structured world models for a wide range of tasks. Finally, I will outline my vision for the future, where structured world models and modern scaling-based approaches work in tandem to create versatile robot perception and planning algorithms with the potential to meet and ultimately surpass human-level capabilities.


Krishna Murthy is a postdoc at MIT with Josh Tenenbaum and Antonio Torralba. His research focuses on building multi-sensory world models to help embodied agents perceive, reason about, and act in the world around them. He has organized multiple workshops on themes spanning differentiable programming, physical reasoning, 3D vision and graphics, and ML research dissemination. His research has been recognized with graduate fellowship awards from NVIDIA and Google (2021); a best paper award from Robotics and Automation letters (2019); and induction to the RSS Pioneers cohort (2020).

About the Seminar Series

The Future Leaders in Robotics and AI: Celebrating Diversity and Innovation Seminar Series is part of the University of Maryland and Microsoft Robotics and Diversity Initiative. This is a nationwide online seminar series for PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, or early-career professionals, especially underrepresented minorities and women. The seminar series highlights the latest research and innovation in the field of robotics and AI. The series is intended to provide exposure and mentorship opportunities to the speakers, build a network of innovators across the country, and support the speakers’ career planning.

The seminars are held once per month during the academic year. There are two speakers per seminar. Each speaker gives a 20-minute research presentation followed by a Q&A segment. Immediately after the second seminar, the speakers participate in a discussion with faculty.

Audience: Public 

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