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Aaron Johnson, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, delivers an informative overview of the future of robotics.

Johnson’s work focuses on the design of intelligent interactions between a robot and its specific environment. Johnson is interested in the practical applications of robotics, taking robots out of a lab or industrial setting and putting them in the real world. Johnson’s areas of study have varied widely, from unique robot design and behavior design to platform and controller design, dynamic transitions, physics-based planning and management, robot vision, bio-inspired robotics, ethics, and more.

Johnson elaborates on the complex environments in which robots are expected to flourish. As he explains, advanced robots are often designed and tested in environments that are created with a robot’s movement and needs in mind. But what happens when robots enter the real world and are faced with impediments, such as debris, clutter, or uneven surfaces, not typically found in an industrial factory setting? Johnson explains how these problems relate to progress gained in the development of autonomous vehicles. And even in engineered environments, variations and difficulties can exist, such as lighting that makes painted road lines or information difficult to see. Johnson talks about these issues and more that impact robot design and the improvements that are on the horizon.

The mechanical engineering professor talks in detail about robotic vision, sensors, and how much information can be collected. He discusses data and computational limits, and how these limits can be overcome through advancing technologies. Johnson discusses the various kinds of robots that he works within his lab and the bioinspiration that is driving some of their work.

Johnson received a BS in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Ph.D. in electrical and systems engineering from the prestigious, University of Pennsylvania.

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