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ESE Spring Colloquium – “Bridging Safety and Learning in Human-Robot Interaction”

March 1 at 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

From autonomous cars in cities to mobile manipulators at home, robots must interact with people. What makes this hard is that human behavior—especially when interacting with other agents—is vastly complex, varying between individuals, environments, and over time. Thus, robots rely on data and machine learning throughout the design process and during deployment to build and refine models of humans. However, by blindly trusting their data-driven human models, today’s robots confidently plan unsafe behaviors around people, resulting in anything from miscoordination to dangerous collisions.

My research aims to ensure safety in human-robot interaction, particularly when robots learn from and about people. In this talk, I will discuss how treating robot learning algorithms as dynamical systems driven by human data enables safe human-robot interaction. I will first introduce a Bayesian monitor which infers online if the robot’s learned human model can evolve to well-explain observed human data. I will then discuss how a novel, control-theoretic problem formulation enables us to formally quantify what the robot could learn online from human data and how quickly it could learn it. Coupling these ideas with robot motion planning algorithms, I will demonstrate how robots can safely and automatically adapt their behavior based on how trustworthy their learned human models are. I will end this talk by taking a step back and raising the question: “What is the ‘right’ notion of safety when robots interact with people?” and discussing opportunities for how rethinking our notions of safety can capture more subtle aspects of human-robot interaction.

Andrea Bajcsy

PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley

Andrea Bajcsy is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, working with Professors Anca Dragan and Claire Tomlin. She studies safe human-robot interaction, particularly when robots learn from and about people. Her research unites traditionally disparate methods from control theory and machine learning to develop theoretical frameworks and practical algorithms for human-robot interaction in domains like assistive robotic arms, quadrotors, and autonomous cars. Prior to her Ph.D., she earned her B.S. at the University of Maryland, College Park in Computer Science in 2016. She is the recipient of an Honorable Mention for the T-RO Best Paper Award, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship, and has worked at NVIDIA Research and Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.


March 1
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
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Electrical and Systems Engineering
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Raisler Lounge (Room 225), Towne Building
220 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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