Living with Robots

Oussama Khatib
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Department of Computer Science
Stanford University


Robotics is rapidly expanding into the human environment and vigorously engaged in its new emerging challenges. From a largely dominant industrial focus, robotics has undergone, by the turn of the new millennium, a major transformation in scope and dimensions. This expansion has been brought about by the maturity of the field and the advances in its related technologies to address the pressing needs for human-centered robotic applications. Interacting, exploring, and working with humans, the new generation of robots will increasingly touch people and their lives, in homes, workplaces, and communities, providing support in services, entertainment, education, health care, and assistance. The discussion focuses on new design concepts, novel sensing modalities, efficient planning and control strategies, modeling and understanding of human motion and skills, which are among the key requirements for safe, dependable, and competent robots. The exploration of the human-robot connection is proving extremely valuable in providing new avenues for the study of human movement -- with exciting prospects for novel clinical therapies, athletic training, character animation, and human performance improvement.

About the Speaker:

Oussama Khatib received his Doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering from Sup’Aero, Toulouse, France, in 1980. He is Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. His work on advanced robotics focuses on methodologies and technologies in human-centered robotics including humanoid control architectures, human motion synthesis, interactive dynamic simulation, haptics, and human-friendly robot design. He is Co-Editor of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics series, and has served on the Editorial Boards of several journals as well as the Chair or Co-Chair of numerous international conferences. He co-edited the Springer Handbook of Robotics, which received the PROSE Award. He is a Fellow of IEEE and has served as a Distinguished Lecturer. He is the President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR) and a recipient of the Japan Robot Association (JARA) Award in Research and Development.

Professor Khatib received the 2010 IEEE RAS Pioneer Award in Robotics and Automation for his fundamental pioneering contributions in robotics research, visionary leadership, and life-long commitment to the field. Professor Khatib also received the 2013 IEEE RAS Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his vision and leadership for the Robotics and Automation Society, in establishing and sustaining conferences in robotics and related areas, publishing influential monographs and handbooks and training and mentoring the next generation of leaders in robotics education and research.

We introduce the task-oriented whole-body control architecture, which provides a unified framework that integrates the control of multiple tasks, multiple posture behaviors, and multiple constraints in a dynamically consistent manner. The major characteristic of the next generation of robots is their full immersion in unstructured and outdoor environments. Moving humanoid robots to operate in cluttered environments to perform tasks that involve multi-point interactions will require the development of new abilities and skills. Among the fundamental capabilities needed is the ability of effectively modifying, adjusting, or maintaining the motion, compliance, and contact forces in a more stable manner. Whether the robot is moving among obstacles in the free space, applying forces to the surrounding objects, or recovering from an unexpected change in the environment, the aptitude to use all body parts to safely circumnavigate in the environment is an imperative requirement for the execution of any intended task.

Addressing these key challenges, our effort in this new phase of the project will focus on the development of (i) new control primitives for kneeling, crawling, and standing up, (ii) locomotion strategy to improve support in unstructured terrains, and (iii) new tools to evaluate new design concepts about the shape, kinematics, and actuation strategies for future generation robots.