Research and projects

I've worked on some interesting projects in the last few years. Keep reading to find out more...


CMAssist is a robotic platform for creating robots that can act as assistants in home and office environments. There is a large stress on natural modes of interaction between humans and robots (e.g. speech recognition and synthesis). My advisor Paul Rybski, fellow Masters student Kevin Yoon, and I developed the core system with some useful recent additions by undergrads Alex Grubb and Chris Broglie.

In June 2006 we went to Bremen, Germany, to participate in a new RoboCup league called RoboCup@Home. The idea of the league is to promote research in robots that are useful in the home. We got 2nd place overall out of 11 participating teams. We went into the finals ranked first but we lost to a German beer-fetching robot (why didn't we think of that?!)

My Masters thesis research is a part of this effort. For the RoboCup@Home competition I wrote a "simplistic" person following behavior for the robot. My thesis work aims to improve this behavior through multi-modal sensor fusion along with speech input and a map of the environment.


Our robots have also gotten some interesting press from the conferences we've been to:
RoboCup2006: German TV station ZDF ran half-hour recaps of RoboCup every night during the competition. Here is the episode where they talked about RoboCup@Home. There are quite a few shots of us and Kevin even got interviewed! Fast-forward to 24:20 in the video to get to our part.
AAAI 2006: CNET had a couple pages on our participation in the Mobile Robot Exhibition


P. E. Rybski, K. Yoon, J. Stolarz, M. Veloso, "Interactive Robot Task Training through Dialog and Demonstration," in Proceedings of the 2007 Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Washington DC, March, 2007. [pdf]
P. E. Rybski, K. Yoon, J. Stolarz, M. Veloso, "CMAssist: A RoboCup@Home Team," in Workshop Proceedings of the 2006 AAAI Mobile Robot Competition and Exhibition, Boston, MA, July, 2006. [pdf]

Braille Writing Tutor

The Braille Writing Tutor is an exciting project that I worked on for my class project in 16871: Technology for Developing Communities. The Braille Writing Tutor was created by Nidhi Kalra and Tom Lauwers, both of the Robotics Institute. It is a low-power, low-cost electronic slate and stylus that interfaces with a computer to give immediate feedback to students.

My contribution to the project included an analysis of the initial design with an eye towards further expansion, a blind-friendly installer for the software, and changing the text-to-speech engine so that it used SAPI 5.1 Microsoft Mary (free) instead of Cepstral, a proprietary speech engine ($30/license).

Resource Reservation in Esterel

During my senior year at UCSC I did a small independent study project with Prof. Luca de Alfaro. The goal was to write a resource reservation module in Esterel, a reactive programming language we used to program Lego Mindstorm robots in his Embedded Systems (CMPE-117) class (which I was taking at the same time). The aim was to verify that the reservation module had no race conditions using Chai, modified version of the verification tool Mocha.


This was a project for CMPS-115: Software Methodology at UCSC. The idea behind the project was to take an already existing piece of software and enhance it, going through all the steps of software design along the way. My team "Team Coredump" chose to work on X-Scorch, a linux port of the classic tank game Scorched Earth. Our goals included adding a new AI type, parachutes, and natural effects (meteors and lightning), along with some other gameplay tweaks. Feel free to check out our team webpage, though the repo is long since defunt.