Human-Robot Interaction and Whole-Body Robot Sensing - Dr Vladimir Lumelsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr Vladimir Lumelsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be visiting the School of Engineering. As part of his visit he will deliver an IEEE Sensors Council Distinguished Lecture entitled, "Human-Robot Interaction and Whole-Body Robot Sensing". Abstract and biography are given below.

Date & Time: 11:00 - 12:00, Friday, 1st July
Venue: Room 526, James Watt South Building


The ability by a robot to operate in an uncertain environment, such as near humans or far away under human control, potentially opens a myriad uses. Examples include robots preparing the Mars surface for human arrival; robots for assembly of large space telescopes; robot helpers for the elderly; robot search and disposal of war mines. So far advances in this area have been focusing on small categories of tasks rather than on a universal ability typical in nature. Challenges appear both on the robotics side and on human side: robots have hard time adjusting to unstructured environment, whereas human cognition has serious limits in adjusting to robots and grasping complex 2D and 3D motion. As a result, applications where robots operate near humans – or far away under their control – are exceedingly rare. The way out of this impasse is to supply the robot with a whole-body sensing - an ability to sense surrounding objects at the robot’s whole body and utilize these data in real time. This calls for large-area flexible arrays - sensitive skin covering the whole robot body akin to the skin covering the human body. Whole-body sensing brings interesting, even unexpected, properties: powerful robots become inherently safe; human operators can move them fast, with “natural” speeds; robot motion strategies exceed human spatial reasoning skills; it becomes realistic to utilize natural synergy of human-robot teams and allow a mix of supervised and unsupervised robot operation. We will review the mathematical, algorithmic, hardware (materials, electronics, computing), as well as control and cognitive science issues involved in realizing such systems.


Vladimir Lumelsky is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics is from Institute of Control Sciences, Russian National Academy of Sciences, Moscow. He has held engineering and faculty positions with Ford Motor Research Labs, General Electric Research Center, Yale University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Maryland, NASA-Goddard Space Center. Concurrently he held visiting and long-term positions with the Tokyo Institute of Science, Japan; Weizmann Institute, Israel; USA National Science Foundation; USA-Antarctica South Pole Station; NASA.

He has served on Editorial Boards of IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, IEEE Sensors Journal (Founding Editor-in-Chief) and other journals; on governing bodies and various committees of IEEE, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, IEEE Sensors Council (including as President); served as chair and co-chair of major conferences, and guest editor for special journal issues. He has authored over 200 publications (books, journal papers, conferences, reports); is IEEE Life Fellow, and member of ACM and SME.

First published: 1 July 2016