For prospective students

Interested? General information follows. MS in Robotics students, please see below.

Important: If you have mailed me directly asking about potential openings in the lab (for Ph.D., MS, or Undergrad research opportunities): I appreciate you reaching out, and I do try to respond to each person who reaches out. Note that our Ph.D. application deadline with funding considerations is December 15, and only when all applications have come in, I will look at all the applicants and reach out to those who would fit the lab's research agenda the most. Also, I would like to sense from your communique what about my lab's work interests you, so I can evaluate whether you would be a good fit for us. Your CV and publication records may not be enough. I will reach out if your profile is a better fit compared to other potential candidates. I, unfortunately, will not be able to spare the time to talk to each individual applicant, as that number can potentially be rather high.

My research focuses on the computational and perceptual aspects of human-robot interaction for field robotics. Specifically, I look at developing algorithms that would enable mobile robots to collaborate safely and robustly in the field with humans. The word "field" is loosely used to describe an environment that has not been specifically designed or engineered for mobile robots, and which includes the physical space occupied by humans in their personal or professional life. This includes underwater, aerial, and terrestrial domains, where robots are needed to operate in all kinds of terrain conditions alongside, and/or under human guidance. Communication, perception, dialog, and learning are core elements of my research, in addition to systems design, both software, and hardware.

Certain issues including but not limited to the psychological impacts of robots on humans and ethics in robotics are important components of human-robot interaction; however, students interested in pursuing research in such areas are likely to find other groups better suited to their interest.

Also, while we do a fair amount of research in robot vision, we are primarily a robotics group. Students I work with have a passion for robots, field robots in particular, and real-time computing and robot development. Students are expected to contribute to the advancement of robotics. Our research problems start as a concept and end up as implemented, working algorithms running onboard physical robots in realistic environments. If you are mainly interested in computer vision, deep learning, language, or other areas but not so keen on robotics, I'm afraid we almost certainly are not the best fit for you.

Students interested in pursuing graduate studies as part of my group should have a keen interest in probabilistic robotics, robot perception, machine learning, and/or interaction design. Good coding skills are necessary as the research will be validated on actual robotic platforms, often outdoors and in challenging environments. Familiarity with hardware (Arduinos, embedded boards, actuators, and general robot hardware and sensors) is a plus.

Of course, this is all subject to openings in the lab, which may not always exist.

For incoming (or existing) MS students in Robotics (at MnRI)

  1. As of now, I am not going to take on new Master's students in the Fall of '21. The lab is large, and I would not have the time to give to any more graduate students.
  2. There are usually a number of people who probably expressed interest already, so there is likely going to be a queue.
  3. That said, the MS program will require you to take courses for the first two semesters, and you very well might not have too much time for research. The best bet is to look into research options in the Fall of 2022. So I would recommend, if you are still interested then, to reach out to me during the Spring 2022 semester.
  4. As far as project ideas, while I do not mind working on independent research studies with students who are not in the lab, you will not be a UoM student in the summer before you begin officially, so it would be difficult to have any official relationship between you and my lab. I am open to considering these independent studies during the Fall or Spring semesters.