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News from IRIM | January 13, 2021 Edition


Robot handing money to another robot with idea lightbulb

Congratulations to the IRIM Seed Grant Winners for 2021

The Institute for Robotics & Intelligent Machines (IRIM) is pleased to announce the winners of the FY21 IRIM Seed Grant competition.

Ye Zhao; Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering | Jun Ueda; Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering |   Ai-Ping Hu: Principal Research Engineer, Georgia Tech Research Institute |  Tuo Zhao
Towards Closed-loop Perception and Decision-making of Highly Dynamic Robot Motions in Unstructured Environments

Professor Zhao leads the Laboratory for Intelligent Decision and Autonomous Robots. LIDAR’s team focuses on planning, control, decision-making, applied optimization, and learning algorithms of highly dynamic, under-actuated, and human-cooperative robots maneuvering in dynamically-changing, unstructured, and possibly adversarial environments.

Zsolt Kira; Assistant Professor,  School of Interactive Computing | Evangelous Theodorou; Assistant Professor,  Aerospace Engineering
Marrying Robust Planning and Controls with Deep Learning for Robust Navigation

Professor Kira leads the Robotics Perception and Learning (RIPL) lab. RIPL investigates the intersection of learning methods for sensor processing and robotics, developing novel machine learning algorithms and formulations towards solving some of the more difficult perception problems in these areas.

The primary objective of the IRIM seed grant program is to underpin larger funding opportunities (>$1M) leading to research outcomes that increase the technological and scientific footprint of IRIM in the robotics community. Seed grants are typically geared towards time-sensitive “high risk/high payoff” exploratory research efforts that would not be easily funded by other means.

A Stellar Achievement | GT Clinician Receives Phase I Clinical Trial Funding for Prosthetics Advances 

IRIM Research Faculty and Senior Clinical Research Scientist in the School of Mechanical Engineering Ms. Kinsey Herrin New IRIM Research Faculty and Senior Clinical Research Scientist in the School of Mechanical Engineering Ms. Kinsey Herrin has garnered her first major grant award through the DoD’s CDMRP OPORP program. This $350K award will fund a Phase I clinical trial with above knee amputees with microprocessor knee technology, including technology from the Exoskeleton and Prosthetic Intelligent Controls (EPIC) Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  

The EPIC lab, under the leadership of Professor Aaron Young, has successful ongoing orthotics projects for powered knee/ankle prosthesis with Shriners Hospitals for Children®. Professor Young noted that Ms. Herrin drafted the grant application and justifications and is the lead clinician on the grant, “…a great accomplishment for her first year as a research scientist. This would not have been possible without her support and involvement.”

The Exoskeleton and Prosthetic Intelligent Controls (EPIC) Lab at Georgia Tech, led by Prof.  Aaron Young, is devoted to the design and improvement of powered orthotic and prosthetic control systems. The EPIC lab capabilities include the ability to characterize robotic devices and controller implementation from the ground up, starting at fabrication and bench-top testing, to controller optimization, and measuring the effects on human performance outcomes.

The goal of the CDMRP OPORP is to improve understanding and advance the implementation of the most effective prescriptions for prosthetic and orthotic devices, treatment, rehabilitation, and secondary health effect prevention options for patients, clinicians, other caregivers, and policymakers. 

Sehoon Ha Part of $500k Grant to Make Safer, More
Deployable Robots

 Sehoon Ha, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing Large, heavy, and the potential to suddenly fall over means that the risk to humans has remained too high to place this technology in homes, hospitals, retail spaces, or care facilities.

In 2016, however, researchers at UCLA posed a solution: What if we made robots that just couldn’t fall down? Now, researchers at Georgia Tech, in collaboration with UCLA and the University of Southern California, are working to develop a new class of locomotion systems that could enable this technology to become a larger part of our daily lives.

“We have lots of robots,” said Sehoon Ha, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing and a co-principal investigator on the project. “But they aren’t in our house or in our stores. It’s mainly because of safety. I have a young daughter. I wouldn’t be comfortable with a full-sized humanoid robot in my house.”

Find out what ideas Professor Ha has to make safer robots at this College of Computing news item.
New Course for Spring 2021 |  CS8803 Mobile Manipulation

Instructors:  Prof. Seth Hutchinson   |  Prof. Frank Dellaert
We would like you cordially invite you to register for “CS8803 - Mobile Manipulation” taught by professors Seth Hutchinson and Frank Dellaert.
The course will cover questions such as: What is a mobile manipulator? How to model, plan and control them? What is the current state of the research? Thus, the course spans over a wide range of topics from path planning, kinematics, factor graphs, dynamics and control theory for mobile manipulations, while learning practical skills using ROS and Gazebo to communicate and simulate robotic systems. 
The course will use the textbook “Modern Robotics”, which is completely available online. It is also available in Chinese translation.

The course will be taught in a hybrid mode but can be completely done online. Please contact for more details

*The IRIM Seminar Series will Begin
February 3, 2021*

More Details TBA


Affiliate Events

TECHnically Creative with María Santos

Monday, January 25, 2021 @ 11 a.m. | Facebook Live
A virtual conversation with Georgia Tech Alumni working in the arts

Tune in for the next TECHnically Creative: Georgia Tech Alumni and the Arts episode with María Santos, M.S. ECE 2016, Ph.D. ECE 2020! Her research focuses on the distributed coordination of multi-robot systems, with a particular focus on modeling heterogeneous capabilities within large swarms of robots. She also explores the use of swarm robotics in various forms of artistic expression, research for which she was awarded a La Caixa Fellowship for Graduate Studies in North America during her doctoral studies. María is now a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University.
Visit her website to watch videos of interactive multi-robot painting and more!
This event is free and open to all. Register to submit a question in advance and receive the Facebook livestream link.

More information and registration here.
Researcher & Student Accolades

Congratulations to PI Matthew Gombolay and his research team for garnering a Best Paper Nomination from the 2020 Conference on Robot Learning. Held virtually from November 16 - 18, this event had a 34% acceptance rate, with only 4 papers nominated for best paper. Citation: Chen, L., Paleja, R. and Gombolay, M., “Learning from Suboptimal Demonstration via Self-Supervised Reward Regression” Proc. Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL) 2020. Link:

Congratulations to Robotics Ph.D. Candidate (Aero) Yosef Razin. Mr. Razin received the Edison Patent Award from the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, along with his co-inventors at Princeton Satellite Systems and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, for their patent “Method and Apparatus to Produce High Specific Impulse and Moderate Thrust from a Fusion-Powered Rocket Engine”, describing a nuclear fusion rocket engine that uses deuterium and helium-3 to produce thrust and electric power for space travel.


Industrial Robot with TrophyHave you won/been nominated for an award from an academic or professional society? Have you been invited to speak at a conference or advisory panel? Do you have great new publications or lab news to share? IRIM wants to know!

Enter your information in the form linked to below and we will share your news via web and social media channels, as well as keep recorded for annual progress and impact reports.

This form will remain available through June 2021
IRIM Faculty Highlight

IRIM Faculty Feature| Kyriakos G. Vamvoudakis: Assistant Professor; School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Professor Vamvoudakis’ Research Group focuses on the interplay between control theory, game theory, cyber-physical systems, safe autonomy, and reinforcement learning. The team seeks to use self-interested agents along with learning-inspired approaches to design and develop resilient control system algorithms with guaranteed performance, robustness, and stability. The solutions developed by his team are particularly relevant to ensuring secure multi-agent networks, such as unmanned aerial and ground vehicles operating in extreme conditions, smart energy and communications grids, and secure cyber-defense systems.

Learn more about the Vamvoudakis team research projects here


Prof. Vamvoudakis delivers "Using Reinforcement Learning to Solve Control Problems for Robotics" at IROS 2020
EVPR COVID News & Guidance

Reminder: Lab Personnel Density Guidance
Georgia Tech is piloting a revised guideline to accommodate laboratories with lower personnel numbers and sufficient excess space in their laboratory. Read the revised guideline.

Weekly Testing Locations
If you live or work on campus, we strongly encourage you to get tested weekly, even if you aren’t experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. This is an essential part of protecting yourself and the Georgia Tech community. There are several options for getting tested, both on and off campus. See the current schedules and locations at this link.

Vaccine Roll-Out
The Institute has been working diligently with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop a vaccine rollout plan for the entire campus community. This plan consists of consecutive phases with corresponding groups. See the vaccine plane here.

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