Computer Vision Expert Martial Hebert Named Director of Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute Hebert Will Lead World's Largest Robotics Education and Research Center

Byron SpiceThursday, November 6, 2014

Martial Hebert, a leading CMU researcher in computer vision and robotics, will become director of the university's Robotics Institute, effective Nov. 15. 

PITTSBURGH—Martial Hebert, a leading researcher in computer vision and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University since 1984, will become director of the university's Robotics Institute, effective Nov. 15, School of Computer Science Dean Andrew W. Moore announced.

Hebert succeeds Matthew Mason, who has led the institute for the last decade. A professor of robotics, Mason will return his focus to teaching and to his research on robotic manipulation.

"Martial is a widely admired and respected leader in robotics," Moore said. "Over the years, he and the people who have worked with him have produced some of the most impactful work on robot vision and sensing that the world has seen. We are all very excited to have him lead one of CMU's most important centers of excellence."

A native of Chatou, France, who earned a doctorate in computer science at the University of Paris, Hebert joined the Robotics Institute in 1984, just five years after the Robotics Institute was founded, and was named a full professor in 1999. The Robotics Institute has since grown into the world's largest robotics education and research institution, with an annual research budget of more than $54 million.

"Having joined the institute shortly after its creation, I am honored and thrilled to now have the opportunity to work with the faculty, students and staff to shape the next phase of its journey," Hebert said.

Hebert has played a role in such high-profile projects as NavLab, a pioneering program for self-driving vehicles, and in leading the development of perception capabilities for personal care robots in the Quality of Life Technology Center. His research interests include computer vision, especially recognition in images and video data; model building and object recognition from 3-D data; and perception for mobile robots and intelligent vehicles. His group has developed approaches to object recognition and scene analysis in images, 3-D point clouds and video sequences.

In the area of machine perception for robotics, his group has developed techniques for people detection, tracking and prediction, and for understanding the environment of ground vehicles from sensor data.

Hebert has served on the editorial boards of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, and the International Journal of Computer Vision, for which he now serves as editor-in-chief.

The Robotics Institute, now celebrating its 35th year, was the first robotics department at a U.S. university. It subsequently created the world's first robotics Ph.D. program 25 years ago, and recently launched a program that enables CMU undergraduates to add robotics as an additional major.

The institute boasts more than 800 faculty, staff, students, post-doctoral researchers and visitors; has spawned dozens of spin-off companies; and played a key role in convincing such leading companies as Disney, Google, Intel, Apple and Caterpillar to establish offices in Pittsburgh. It occupies 80,000 square feet on CMU's main campus and another 100,000 square feet at its National Robotics Engineering Center.

The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon's top-ranked School of Computer Science. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.

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