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Ken Goldberg – The New Wave in Robot Grasping

Seminar | Monday, March 13, 2017  | 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM | 3108 Etcheverry Hall

Sponsored by Industrial Engineering & Operations Research

Speaker: Ken Goldberg

More information: https://eecs.berkeley.edu/events/2017/03/ken-goldberg-new-wave-robot-grasping

Despite 50 years of research, robots remain remarkably clumsy, limiting their applications in home decluttering, warehouse order fulfillment, and robot-assisted surgery. The first wave of grasping research, still dominant, uses analytic methods based on screw theory and assumes exact knowledge of pose, shape, and contact mechanics. The second wave is empirical: purely data-driven approaches which learn grasp strategies from many examples using techniques such as imitation and reinforcement learning with hyperparametric function approximation (Deep Learning). I conjecture that the next wave will be based on hybrid methods that combine analytic models to bootstrap empirical models, where data and code is exchanged via the Cloud using emerging advances in cloud computing and big data. I’ll present examples of this history and emerging results from our lab.


Ken Goldberg is an artist, inventor, and UC Berkeley Professor. His home department is Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, with secondary appointments in EECS, Art Practice, the School of Information, and Radiation Oncology at the UCSF Medical School. Ken is Director of the CITRIS “People and Robots” Initiative and the UC Berkeley AUTOLAB where he and his students pursue research in geometric algorithms and machine learning for robotics and automation in surgery, manufacturing, and other applications. Ken developed the first provably complete algorithms for part feeding and part fixturing and the first robot on the Internet. Despite agonizingly slow progress, Ken persists in trying to make robots less clumsy. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and eight U.S. Patents. He co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering. Ken’s artwork has appeared in 70 exhibits including the Whitney Biennial and films he has co-written have been selected for Sundance and nominated for an Emmy Award. Ken was awarded the NSF PECASE (Presidential Faculty Fellowship) from President Bill Clinton in 1995, elected IEEE Fellow in 2005 and selected by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society for the George Saridis Leadership Award in 2016. He lives in the Bay Area and is madly in love with his wife, filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain, and their two daughters. He is fiercely protective of his family, his students, and his frequent-flier miles.