2016 Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW)

March 17–18, 2016

Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago
6045 S. Kenwood Avenue (map)
Chicago, IL 60637


The robotics field is experiencing tremendous growth as a result of algorithmic and technological advances, the availability of common, low-cost sensors and platforms, and a standardization in open-source development. These factors together with the growing community of talented, highly-trained roboticists combine to render feasible real-world applications in our homes and workplaces, and on our streets.

The Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW) is intended to bring together roboticists from academia and industry in and around Midwestern United States. It is an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their work with others and to network, with the goal of creating a more cohesive and vibrant robotics community in the Midwest. The workshop will feature invited talks by leading researchers, and an exciting collection of oral presentations and interactive poster sessions.

There is no cost to attend the workshop. Additionally, we we are offering a limited number of student lodging grants for the night of March 17 in order to encourage participation from outside the Chicagoland area.

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers.

Call for Participation

We invite all roboticists from the Midwest (broadly interpreted) to participate in the first annual Midwest Robotics Workshop to be held at TTI-Chicago on the University of Chicago campus (map) on March 17–18, 2016.

We encourage participants to use the workshop as an opportunity to present recent research either as a talk or during an interactive poster session. If you are interested in presenting, please submit a title and abstract summarizing your work. Since the workshop does not have published proceedings, abstracts that describe work that was previously published or is still in progress are welcome.

Invited Speakers

Tim Barfoot

Tim Barfoot is the Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Space Robotics and an associate professor in the Institute for Aerospace Studies at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on advanced visual navigation for mobile robots, with a particular emphasis on applications in field robotics. Tim has developed algorithms for long-range visual odometry and teach and repeat that enable robots to navigate over extended periods of time without the need for prior visual maps.

Todd Murphey

Todd Murphey is the Charles Deering McCormick Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. Todd is interested in computational methods for mechanics and real-time optimal control, physical networks, and information theory in physical systems. His research considers applications in robotics and neuroscience, including control of assistive exoskeletons, software-enabled stroke rehabilitation, entertainment robots, and robotic exploration.

Russ Tedrake

Russ Tedrake is the X Consortium Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Russ' interests include machine learning-based control that exploits the natural dynamics of underactuated systems to realize legged robots capable of dynamic walking over rough terrain and aerial vehicles capable of aggressive flight. Russ was the lead of MIT's team, which participated in the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

Important Dates

February 25, 2016 Registration and Abstract Submission Deadline
February 17, 2016 Student Lodging Grant Application Deadline
March 17–18, 2016 Workshop


The workshop is starting at 10:00am on Thursday to allow time for people to commute to Chicago in the morning. It will end with lunch on Friday. Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days.

Thursday, March 17

10:00am–10:40am Breakfast (provided)
10:40am–11:00am Welcoming Remarks
11:00am–12:00pm Plenary Talk (Chair: Matthew Walter)
Russ Tedrake (MIT), Robust Model-based Optimization for Humanoids and UAVs
12:00pm–01:00pm Lunch (provided) and Poster Session I Setup
01:00pm–02:00pm Poster Session I
02:00pm–03:00pm Invited Talk Session (Chair: Steve Vozar)
Alex Cunningham, Joint Behavioral Inference for Autonomous Driving
Volkan Isler, Robotic Data Gathering in the Wild
Matthew Johnson-Roberson, Underwater Mapping: New Robotic Approaches to an Old Problem
03:00pm–04:00pm Plenary Talk (Chair: Seth Hutchinson)
Todd Murphey (Northwestern), Computational Control Engines For Robotic Systems
04:00pm–04:20pm Break
04:20pm–05:00pm Invited Talk Session (Chair: Thomas Howard)
Bilge Mutlu, Human-Centered Principles and Methods for Designing Robotic Technologies
Laurel Riek, Coordination Dynamics for Human Robot Teams
05:00pm–06:00pm Invited Talk Session (Chair: Volkan Isler)
Gustavo Arechavaleta, Visual Path Following for Humanoid Navigation
Hyongju Park, Robust Control Policies for Multi-Robot Systems
Alireza Ramezani, Flight Control of Articulated Soft Flying Robots

Friday, March 18

08:30am–10:00am Breakfast (provided) and Poster Session
10:00am–11:00am Plenary Talk (Chair: Edwin Olson)
Tim Barfoot (Toronto), Experience is the Best Teacher: Using Past Performance to Continually Improve Localization, Terrain Assessment, and Path Tracking for Visual Route Following
11:00am–12:00pm Invited Talk Session (Chair: Haluk Bayram)
Ran Dai, Integrated Motion Planning and Power Management for a Solar-Powered Ground Robot
Gerardo De La Torre, Ergodicity and Autonomous Exploration
Jong Jin Park, Safe and Comfortable Motion Planning and Control in Dynamic and Uncertain Environments
12:00pm–12:10pm Break
12:10pm–12:50pm Invited Talk Session (Chair: Michael Zinn)
Kira Barton, Intelligent Decisions in Uncertain Terrains
Ram Vasudevan, Measuring the Robustness of Legged Locomotion over Uncertain Terrain
12:50pm–01:00pm Closing Remarks
01:00pm–03:00pm Lunch (provided)

Poster Session I (Thursday)

  1. Benjamin Johnson, 3D Printed Surgical Manipulator for Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy Surgery
  2. Darren Chan, A Biologically-Inspired Salient Region Filter for Faster High-Fidelity Robot Perception
  3. Ayan Dutta, A Graph Isomorphism-based Technique to Form Configurations with Modular Robots
  4. Ryan Marcotte, Adaptive Forward Error Correction with Adjustable-Latency QoS for Robotic Networks
  5. Wonhui Kim, AlbedoTransfer: Real-time Understanding of Intrinsic Scene Properties
  6. Arindam Bhanja Chowdhury, Control of Micro Aerial Vehicles
  7. Max Shepherd, Design and Validation of a Force-controllable Knee Exoskeleton for Sit-to-Stand Assistance
  8. Muhammad Umer Huzaifa, Design of a Bipedal Walker with Core-Located Actuator Inspired from Bartenieff's Basic Six
  9. Arash Ushani, Dynamic Obstacle Tracking for Autonomous Vehicles
  10. Eduardo Iscar Ruland, Evaluation and Benchmark of Multiview 3D Reconstruction in Underwater Environments
  11. Steven Parkison, Feature Learning for Estimation, A Look at Supervised Dictionary Learning for Covariance Prediction
  12. Kevin Leyden, Fractional-Order Differential Equations for Monitoring of a Robot Formation
  13. Anum Jang Sher, Generating and Evaluating Expressive Movements in Robots
  14. Jie Li, High-dimensional Feature Learning for Real-time Robotic Applications: Reducing the Curse of Dimensionality for Recursive Bayesian Estimation
  15. Angelique Taylor, Holistic Perception Algorithms for Mobile Robots
  16. Bradley Woosley, Integrated Task and Motion Planning for Multiple Robots under Path Uncertainties
  17. Ben Conrad, Interleaved Continuum Rigid Manipulation
  18. John Mamish and Sean Messenger, Latent Modeling of UWB Localization with Factor Graphs
  19. Jivko Sinapov, Learning from and about humans using an autonomous multi-robot mobile platform
  20. Tariq Iqbal, Leveraging Coordination Dynamics to Enable Human Robot Teams
  21. Dong Ki Kim, Accurate Vision-based Vehicle Localization using Satellite Imagery

Poster Session II (Friday)

  1. Steve Vozar, LIDAR-assisted Turn Indicator Detection for Autonomous Vehicles
  2. Hongyuan Mei, Listen, Attend, and Walk: Neural mapping of Navigational Instructions to Action Sequences
  3. Joaquin Gabaldon, Mapping the Marine Environment through Coordinated Autonomy
  4. Hang Cui, Mobile Robot Motion Behavior Modulation for Assisting Elderly People's Everyday Activities in Home Environment Using Laban Movement Analysis
  5. Jeff Walls, Model-based object tracking in LIDAR scan data
  6. Dhanvin Mehta, Multi-Policy Decision Making for Robot Navigation in Dynamic Social Environments
  7. Stephen Chaves, Online Graph Sparsification for Planning with Approximate Distributions in Active SLAM
  8. Haluk Bayram, Gathering Bearing Data for Target Localization
  9. Maryam Moosaei, Pain Synthesis for Humanoid Robots
  10. Michael Quann, Probabilistic Energy Mapping For Exploration and Control With Unmanned Ground Vehicles
  11. Marco Cempini, Reciprocal Teleoperation between an Anthropomorphic Manipulator and an Interactive Exoskeleton
  12. Carl Kershaw, Revisiting Occupancy Grid Rasterization: An OpenGL Approach Leveraging GPU Resources
  13. Suren Kumar, Spatiotemporal Articulated Models for Dynamic Environments
  14. Jonathan Hoff, Synergistic Design of a Bio-Inspired Micro Aerial Vehicle with Articulated Wings
  15. Christopher Maurice, Task Space Control for Static Balance of Underactuated Bipeds
  16. Jacob Arkin, Probabilistic Models for Real-Time Natural Language Corrections to Assistive Robotic Manipulators
  17. Katherine Skinner, Towards real-time underwater 3D reconstruction with plenoptic cameras
  18. Guru Subramani, Treating Upper Limb Motor Skill Deficiencies in Children with Autism Spectrum
  19. Kevin Meier, Visual-Inertial Curve SLAM
  20. Patrick Plonski, Environment and Solar Map Construction for Solar-Powered Mobile Systems
  21. Yuchen He, Towards End-to-End Learning of Manipulation Actions by Learning Reward Representations from Videos


There are two hotels nearby TTI-Chicago that provide shuttle service throughout the University of Chicago campus: The Hyatt Place Chicago-South and the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Chicago Lake Shore. There are also several reasonable options in downtown Chicago, such as Hotel Felix.

We will provide a limited number of grants for student lodging at a nearby hotel for the night of March 17. Please see the Registration section for information on how to apply.

Parking: A limited number of parking passes are available for TTIC's parking lot. Please contact the organizers to reserve one. Park in the building's parking lot and get your parking pass from the security guard in the lobby. There is also free parking in the commuter parking lot at 60th St. and Stony Island Ave. and free street parking on many streets near TTIC (just beware of "permit parking" and "street cleaning" signs!). Parking can be found on 61st Street (between Woodlawn Ave and Blackstone Ave), on Dorchester Street (between 60th and 61st Streets).


Please register for the workshop here. There is no cost to register.

We will be awarding a limited number of lodging grants for students outside the Chicagoland area who would like to attend MWRW. The grants will provide a one night stay at a nearby hotel on March 17.


Matthew Walter, TTI-Chicago (Organizer)
Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan (Co-organizer)
Seth Hutchinson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Co-organizer)
Edwin Olson, University of Michigan (Co-organizer)