CS&E Colloquium: Action-Perception Synergy: Bio-Inspired AI For Small Autonomous Robots

The computer science colloquium takes place on Mondays and Fridays from 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

This week's speaker, Nitin Sanket (University of Maryland), will be giving a talk titled "Action-Perception Synergy: Bio-Inspired AI For Small Autonomous Robots".


The human fascination to mimic ultra-efficient living beings like insects and birds has led to the rise of small autonomous robots. Smaller robots are safer, more agile and are task-distributable as swarms. One might wonder, why do we not have small robots deployed in the wild today? Smaller robots are constrained by a severe dearth of computation and sensor quality. To further exacerbate the situation, today's mainstream approach for autonomy on small robots relies on building a 3D map of the scene that is used to plan paths for executing a control algorithm. Such a methodology has severely bounded the potential of small autonomous robots due to the strict distinction between perception, planning, and control. Instead, we re-imagine each agent by drawing inspiration from insects at the bottom of the size and computation spectrum. Specifically, each of our agents is made up of a series of hierarchical competences built on bio-inspired sensorimotor AI loops by utilizing the action-perception synergy. Here, the agent controls its own movement and physical interaction to make up for what it lacks in computation and sensing. Such an approach imposes additional constraints on the data gathered to solve the problem using Active and Interactive Perception. I will present how the world's first prototype of a RoboBeeHive was built using this philosophy. Finally, I will conclude with a recent theory called Novel Perception that utilizes the statistics of motion fields to tackle various class of problems from navigation and interaction. This method has the potential to be the go-to mathematical formulation for tackling the class of motion-field-based problems in robotics.


Dr. Nitin J. Sanket received his M.S. in Robotics from the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP lab, where he worked with Prof. Kostas Daniildis on developing a benchmark for indoor to outdoor visual-inertial odometry systems. He is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor in the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience and a Postdoctoral fellow in the Perception and Robotics Group at the University of Maryland, College Park. He works with Prof. Yiannis Aloimonos and Dr. Conelia Fermuller. Nitin works on developing Bio-inspired AI frameworks using the Action-Perception Synergy for resource-constrained tiny mobile robots. Nitin's doctoral thesis won the Larry S. Davis award and the MDPI Drones Ph.D. Thesis award. Nitin is a recipient of the Dean's fellowship, Future Faculty fellowship, Ann G. Wylie fellowship and was the Maryland Robotics center student ambassador. He has also taught courses, including hands-on aerial robotics and vision, planning and control in aerial robotics. Nitin is currently an Associate Editor for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters Journal. He is also a reviewer for RA-L, T-ASE, IMAVIS, CVPR, ICRA, RSS, IROS, SIGGRAPH and many other top journals and conferences. 

Start date
Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, 11:15 a.m.
End date
Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, 12:15 p.m.

Online via Zoom