Faculty Candidate Seminar

Enabling End-Users to Program General-Purpose Robots

Maya CakmakPost DocWillow Garage

Advances in robotics research and supporting technologies are enabling the development of more and more sophisticated general-purpose robots. These robots could carry out useful tasks for and with humans, in application domains ranging from elder care to manufacturing. Given the diversity of the operation environments and user needs for such robots, it is infeasible to fully program them prior to their deployment. Therefore, a key challenge is to enable end-users to program a general-purpose robot for their own unique purposes. In this talk, I will highlight some of the challenges in allowing everyday people, who have no prior experience with robots or programming, to teach new skills or tasks to a robot. I will present techniques that I have developed for addressing those challenges, focusing on mechanisms for the robot to ask questions to its user. I will demonstrate how user-studies involving real human-robot interactions can lead to alternative representations, algorithms and user-interfaces that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the
robot, as well as the user experience. I will conclude with a research agenda towards long-term deployment of end-user programmable robots.
Maya Cakmak is a post-doctoral research fellow at Willow Garage. She received her Ph.D. in Robotics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012. Her research interests are at the intersection of Human-Robot Interaction and Programming by Demonstration. In particular, her research aims to develop functionalities and interfaces for personal robots that can be programmed by their end-users to assist everyday tasks. Maya's work has been published at major Robotics and AI conferences and journals, demonstrated live in various venues and has been featured in numerous media outlets.

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