Knowledge Driven Robotics at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI)

All dates for this event occur in the past.

Scott Lab E141
201 W. 19th Avenue Columbus, OH 43210
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Seminar speaker: Stephen Balakirsky


Current robotic systems tend to be brittle. They work well in very constrained environments while performing repetitive tasks. However, the systems lack the agility to cope with errors, the flexibility to work with humans or diverse problem sets, and the adaptability to cope with changes in the environment or process. One solution that is often employed is to make the system more complex by adding more parameters that must be tuned by users, or more complex conditions that must be satisfied for mission success. This leads to a need for a highly trained workforce that has both task expertise and robotics expertise. The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is creating a planning framework that trains the robot rather than the workforce. It allows the robot to understand both when actions are appropriate, and the expected outcomes and consequences for action execution. Through this understanding, the system is able to plan complex missions, detect failures, and provide corrective actions.

This system is based off of three widely used constructs; the Planning Domain Definition Language (PDDL), behavior trees, and a Mongo world knowledge database. This talk will present our architecture that ties these constructs together, and the planning and control techniques that allow the system to be more agile, flexible, and adaptable than traditional robotic cells. In addition, several use cases and examples of the framework’s application will be presented.


Dr. Stephen Balakirsky is a Regents’ Researcher with the University System of Georgia, the Chief Scientist for the Aerospace, Transportation & Advanced Systems Laboratory at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and the Director of Technical Initiatives at the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Balakirsky’s research interests include robotic architectures, planning, bio-automation, robotic standards, and autonomous systems testing. His work in knowledge driven robotics couples real-time sensors and knowledge repositories to allow for flexibility and agility in robotic systems ranging from assembly and manufacturing systems to surveillance and logistics systems. The framework promotes software reuse and the ability to detect and correct for execution errors.

Previously, Dr. Balakirsky worked as a project manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and was a senior research engineer at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). At ARL, Dr. Balakirsky performed mobile robotics research in several areas, including command and control, mapping, human-computer interfaces, target tracking, vision processing and tele-operated control.

Dr. Balakirsky obtained his doctorate in engineering from the University of Bremen in Bremen, Germany and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

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