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Robotics is a highly interdisciplinary field focused on the design, development, validation and application of mechanical devices that entails sensing, manipulating, navigating and responding to the environment to complete tasks either autonomously or based on feedback from a human. At Vanderbilt, this research encompasses multiple topics including (semi-)autonomous systems, biologically inspired algorithms/behaviors, cognitive robotics, computer vision, digital image and signal processing, human-robot/swarm interaction, unmanned ground and aerial vehicles, and intelligent multiple robot teaming.


Julie Adams Julie Adams - RoboticsJULIE ADAMS

Associate Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Dr. Adams' heads the Human-Machine Teaming Laboratory and is a lead researcher in human-robot interaction. Her robotics research covers a variety of areas that are applied to ground and aerial robots for deployment in complex and uncertain environments, such as mass casualty and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive device incidents. Her human-robot interaction research focuses on developing interaction capabilities that support humans acting as supervisors, operators or peers of their robotic teammates. Adams' human-swarm interaction research focuses on analyzing biological swarm species that demonstrate leadership in order to understand the uncertainties associated with perceiving and interacting with the swarm; defining metrics for assessing human-swarm interaction; emulating the biological swarm communication models; and developing interactive visualizations and decision support tools. Her distributed intelligence research focuses on allocating robots and humans to teams using coalition formation, multiple robot planning, and cognitive capabilities for robotic systems. Adams' Human-Machine Teaming Laboratory was the first to demonstrate actual multiple robot coalition formation. Adams' fixed winged unmanned aerial vehicle research focuses on deploying fixed winged UAVs in extreme environmental conditions to capture the vastness and complexity of the architecture at archaeological sites, while her multi-rotor efforts focus on developing vehicles to be deployed in deconstructed indoor environments for first response situations.


Research Professor of Electrical Engineering
Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Engineering Management

Robots are finding their way into every aspect of work and home. Robotics has the potential to transform lives and work practices. For example, they have the potential to be used in often chaotic emergency rooms in order to address critical concerns facing these departments in major hospitals. These robotic assistants could register patients, collect basic diagnostic data and even periodically check up on patients.

In addition to this type of research which Kawamura initiated several years ago, Kawamura's research interests include intelligent systems design, cognitive robotics development, human-robot interaction, and robot skill learning using the working memory and cognitive control. He is an internationally recognized researcher in cognitive systems and robotics and a fellow of IEEE.


Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Richard Peters - RoboticsSensorimotor coordination is the basis for intelligent behavior by animals, including people. Alan Peters' research involves a control system for industrial robots that will enable them to react in real time to a dynamic environment and to learn from that interaction. Essentially the robot learns patterns that describe "what it feels like" to perform a specific task. In theory, such patterns should enable the robot to generalize its knowledge to apply it to new tasks and to solve new problems. Peters' current research is to represent the robot's sensorimotor patterns mathematically so that they can be learned, modeled, compared, and combined.

In addition to this work, Peters' research interests include digital image processing, computer vision, digital signal processing, microcontrollers, embedded systems, applications of electromagnetic theory, and applied mathematics. He is a member of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, which investigates fundamental problems such as, sensor fusion, sensory memory, machine learning of sensorimotor coordination, and robot manipulation with the goal of incorporating the results of the research into real, working systems.

Mitchell Wilkes Mitchell Wilkes - RoboticsMITCHELL WILKES

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering

D. Mitchell Wilkes is currently collaborating with Pietro Valdastri on sensing and perception issues related to capsule robots. In addition, Wilkes conducts research on digital signal processing, image processing and computer vision, and medical signal processing.

Affiliated Faculty

Michael Goldfarb
H. Fort Flowers Chair in Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Nilanjan Sarkar
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering

Nabil Simaan
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Otolaryngology

Pietro Valdastri
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Robert Webster
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Otolaryngology