The Maryland Robotics Center Virtual Research Symposium May 25, 2021

Registration Poster Session

Raquel Urtasun, Professor at Univ. of Toronto, Former head of Uber ATG R&D

Profile Picture for Dieter Fox Dieter Fox, Senior Director of Robotics Research at Nvidia, Professor at Univ. of Washington

A Future with Self-Driving Vehicles

We are on the verge of a new era in which robotics and artificial intelligence will play an important role in our daily lives. Self-driving vehicles have the potential to redefine transportation as we understand it today. Our roads will become safer and less congested, while parking spots will be repurposed as leisure zones and parks. However, many technological challenges remain as we pursue this future. In this talk I will showcase the latest advancements we made in the quest towards self-driving vehicles at scale.

Raquel Urtasun is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision and a co-founder of theVector Institutefor AI. Prior to this she was the Chief Scientist of Uber ATG and the Head ofUber ATGR&D. Before that, she was an Assistant Professor at theToyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC), an academic computer science institute affiliated with the University of Chicago. Additionally she was a visiting professor atETH Zurichduring the spring semester of 2010. She received her Ph.D. degree from the Computer Science department atEcole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL)in 2006 and did her postdoc atMITandUC Berkeley. She is a world leading expert in AI for self-driving cars. Her research interests include machine learning, computer vision, robotics and remote sensing. Her lab was selected as an NVIDIA NVAIL lab. She is a recipient of an NSERC EWR Steacie Award, an NVIDIA Pioneers of AI Award, a Ministry of Education and Innovation Early Researcher Award, three Google Faculty Research Awards, an Amazon Faculty Research Award, a Connaught New Researcher Award, a Fallona Family Research Award, an UPNA alumni award and two Best Paper Runner up Prize awarded at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) in 2013 and 2017 respectively. She was also named Chatelaine 2018 Woman of the year, and 2018 Toronto's top influencers by Adweek magazine.

Toward Robust Manipulation in Complex Environments

Recent advances in deeplearning and GPU-based computing have enabled significant progress in several areas of robotics, including navigation, visual recognition, and object manipulation. This progress has turned applications such as autonomous driving and delivery tasks in warehouses, hospitals, or hotelsinto realistic application scenarios. However, robust manipulation in complex settings is still an open research problem. Various efforts at NVIDIA robotics research investigate how deep learning along with physics-based and photo-realistic simulation can be used to train manipulators in virtual environments and then deploy them in the real world. Our work shows promising results on different pieces of the manipulation puzzle, including manipulator control, touch sensing, object pose detection, and object pick and place. In this talk, I will present some of these advances. I will describe a robot manipulator that can open and close cabinet doors and drawers, detect and pickup objects, and move these objects to desired locations. Our baseline system is designed to be applicable in a wide variety of environments, only relying on 3D articulated models of the kitchen and the relevant objects. I will discuss lessons learned so far, and various research directions toward enabling more robust and general manipulation systems that do not rely on existing models.

Dieter Fox is Senior Director of Robotics Research at NVIDIA and Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where he heads the UW Robotics and State Estimation Lab. Dieter obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn, Germany. His research is in robotics and artificial intelligence, with a focus on state estimation and perception applied to problems such as mapping, object detection and tracking, manipulation, and activity recognition. He has published more than 200 technical papers and is the co-author of the textbook “Probabilistic Robotics”. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, AAAI, and ACM, and recipient of the 2020 Pioneer in Robotics and Automation Award. Dieter also received several best paper awards at major robotics, AI, and computer vision conferences. He was an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, program co-chair of the 2008 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and program chair of the 2013 Robotics: Science and Systems conference.

Agenda Items



  • Welcome Remarks: UMD President Darryll Pines
  • Overview: Derek Paley, MRC Director

9:00-9:30 am

Keynote: Raquel Urtasun: A future with self-driving vehicles

9:30-10:00 am

Technical Session 1: Bio-Inspired and Soft Robotics

  • Nikhil Chopra: Modeling and Control of Soft Robots
  • Pamela Abshire: Sniffing Out Odors on a Nano Quadcopter
  • Eleonora Tubaldi: Harnessing mechanical Instabilities for Robotics Applications

10:00-11:00 am

Poster Spotlight Session 1

11:00-11:30 am

Technical Session 2: Multi-Robot Systems

  • Yancy Diaz-Mercado: Magnetic Steering of Multi-Robot Teams
  • Jeffrey Herrmann: Adapting Multi-Robot Collaboration with Metareasoning
  • Michael Otte: Using Many Robots for Fun and Useful Things

11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Lunch Break/Interactive Poster Session (

12:30-1:45 pm

Welcome Remarks: Robert Briber, Interim Dean, A. James Clark School of Engineering

1:45-2:00 pm

Technical Session 3: Learning and Perception

  • John Baras: Robotic Manipulation Tasks: Modeling, Learning and Safety
  • Yiannis Aloimonos: Robots learning from Vision and Language
  • Cornelia Fermuller: Event-Vision for Navigation

2:00-3:00 pm

Keynote: Dieter Fox: Toward Robust Manipulation in Complex Environments

3:00-3:30 pm

Technical Session 4: Unmanned Aerial Systems

  • Pratap Tokekar: Resilient Multi-Robot Teaming
  • Mumu Xu: Certification of Autonomous Vehicles: A Regulator-Oriented Approach
  • Matt Scassero: UAS Integration into National Airspace

3:30-4:30 pm

Poster Spotlight Session 2 4:30-5:00 pm

Closing/Interactive Poster Session (

5:00-5:30 pm

Pamela Abshire

301.405.6629 |

John S. Baras

Distinguished University Professor
301.405.6606 |

Yancy Diaz-Mercado

Assistant Professor
301-405-6506 |

Michael Otte

Assistant Professor
301-405-2723 |

Pratap Tokekar

Associate Professor

Huan Xu

Associate Professor
301.405.1133 |

Yiannis Aloimonos

301.405.1743 |

Nikhil Chopra

301.405.7011 |

Cornelia Fermüller

Research Scientist
301.405.1768 |

Matt Scassero

Director of Operations and Outreach
240-925-3511 |

Eleonora Tubaldi

Assistant Professor
(301) 405 5272 |

Spotlight videos for each poster will be shown during the two spotlight sessions. We will also have an interactive poster session on

Numbers correspond to assigned booths. Presenting authors in bold.

  1. Decoding Complex UAV Swarm Maneuvers under Dynamical Leadership. Christos N. Mavridis, Nilesh Suriyarachchi, John S. Baras.
  2. Reinforcement Learning Robot Control with Progressive State-Action Aggregation. Christos N. Mavridis, Nilesh Suriyarachchi, John S. Baras.
  3. Control of Robotic Parasitic Arrays. Jeffrey Twigg and Nikhil Chopra.
  4. Persistent Awareness-Based Multi-Robot Coverage Control. Xiaotian Xu, Erick Rodriguez-Seda and Yancy Diaz-Mercado.
  5. Communication-Aware Multi-robot Coordination with Submodular Maximization. Guangyao Shi, Ishat E Rabban, Lifeng Zhou, Pratap Tokekar.
  6. Bidirectional Sampling-Based Motion Planning without Two-Point Boundary Value Solution. Sharan Nayak, Michael W. Otte.
  7. Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Visibility-based Persistent Monitoring. Jingxi Chen, Amrish Baskaran, Zhongshun Zhang, Pratap Tokekar.
  8. Design, build, and flight tests of a compact coaxial X8 multirotor for high maneuverability and large payload missions. Animesh Shastry, Qingwen Wei, Achal Vyas, Madeline Brode, Radu Teodorescu, Patrick Passarello, Gregory Miller, Karan Sutradhar, Eashwar Sathyamurthy, Arun Dhandayuthabani, Krishna Kidambi, and Derek A. Paley.
  9. An optimization framework for estimation and control of a spatiotemporal process using mobile sensors and actuators. Sheng Cheng and Derek A.  Paley.
  10. Cartographer_glass: 2D Graph SLAM Framework using LiDAR for Glass Environments. Lasitha Weerakoon, Gurtajbir Singh Herr, Jasmine Blunt, Miao Yu, Nikhil Chopra.
  11. Task Space Adaptive Control of Soft Robots. Lasitha Weerakoon and Nikhil Chopra.
  12. Modeling Human-Human Collaboration: A Connection Between Inter-Personal Motor Synergy and Consensus Algorithms. Sara Honarvar, Jin-OH Hahn, Tim Kiemel, Jae Kun Shim, and Yancy Diaz-Mercado.
  13. Bioinspired Sensory and Control Principles for Underwater Multi-vehicle Coordination. Anthony Thompson, Artur Wolek, Derek Paley.
  14. Fast Biconnectivity Restoration in Multi-Robot Systems for Robust Communication Maintenance. Guangyao Shi, Md Ishat-E-Rabban, Pratap Tokekar.
  15. Assured Autonomy and Safe Mission Planning for Multiagent Systems. Usman A. Fiaz and John S. Baras.

Virtual event begins on May 25, 2021 starting at 9:00 AM

Pratap Tokekar
Yancy Diaz-Mercado
Jeffrey Herrmann
Dinesh Manocha
Ania Picard