The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | January 23

Robotics Institute Seminar, January 23
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Activity Modeling and Coordination in Complex Domains: Robot Teams, Humanoids, and People

Maja Mataric
University of Southern California

Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 2:15 pm
Talk 2:30 pm


This talk will summarize our activities in developing models and

algorithms for activity modeling and coordination of complex behavior

in individuals (specifically humanoid robots) and groups (specifically

teams of robots and/or assemblies of people).


The first part of the talk will focus on explicit/intentional and

implicit/emergent coordination methods.  We will describe a framework

for explicit multi-robot coordination, cast in the formalism of

distributed task allocation, and used to provide a taxonomy of

multi-robot coordination methods, existing algorithms (including our

work on auction-based task allocation), and outstanding problems.  We

will then address implicit coordination and describe a framework for

minimalist distributed algorithms (relative to internal state and

communication requirements) and an associated set of methods for

automatically deriving minimalist controllers (with experimental

examples from the multi-robot construction domain).


The second part of the talk will focus on activity modeling and

control in humans and humanoids. We will describe a method for

automatically extracting structure from activity data using

multidimensional scaling (a spatio-temporal adaptation of Isomap) and

describe how structured activity (individual or group) can be

automatically derived/learned. We will show how to derive efficient

movement controllers for complex humanoid agents and robots and how to

enable humanoid skill learning by imitation.  Activity recognition,

classification, and imitation will be brought together in a unified

generative model, and demonstrated on humanoids as well as mobile

robots engaged in human-robot interaction.


As with any proper robotics talk, a plethora of videos will be shown.


Research details are found at

Speaker personal page is found at

Speaker bio is found at

Speaker Biography

Maja Mataric' is an associate professor in the Computer Science

Department and Neuroscience Program at the University of Southern

California, founding director of the USC Center for Robotics and

Embedded Systems (, and co-director of the USC Robotics

Research Lab ( She received her PhD in Computer

Science and Artificial Intelligence from MIT in 1994, her MS in

Computer Science from MIT in 1990, and her BS in Computer Science from

the University of Kansas in 1987. She is a recipient of the NSF Career

Award, the MIT TR100 Innovation Award, the IEEE Robotics and

Automation Society Early Career Award, the USC School of Engineering

Junior Research Award, and is featured in the documentary movie "Me &

Isaac Newton."  She is an associate editor of three major journals and

has published over 30 journal articles, 17 book chapters, 4 edited

volumes, 87 conference papers, and 22 workshop papers, and has two

books in the works with MIT Press. Her research is aimed at endowing

robots with the ability to help people and involves systems ranging

from individual assistans (for convalescence, training, education,

companionship, etc.) to cooperative robot teams (for habitat

monitoring, emergency response, etc.) and problems of intelligent

control and learning in complex, high dimensional/high degree of

freedom systems that integrate perception, representation, and

interaction with people. Research details are found at


Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Kevin R Dixon

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.