Graduate students at chalk board

Princeton graduate student teams advance in robotics, intelligent systems competitions

by Layla Malamut, Class of 2018, and Aaron Nathans, Office of Engineering Communications
July 27, 2017

Two teams of Princeton graduate students are making strong showings in national robotics competitions this year. The teams are combining advances in computation with those in sensing technology.

One group is joining with teammates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology later this month for the third annual Amazon Robotics Challenge in Nagoya, Japan. The challenge asks teams to develop a robot that can recognize various objects that it has never seen before, pick them up and pack them in a box. The team finished third overall in last year’s challenge. The second Princeton team is a finalist in Amazon’s ongoing Alexa Prize competition, which challenges teams to create software that converses naturally with people.

The Alexa team is plumbing methods to understand and work with language, while the Robotics Challenge team is pushing the boundaries of computer vision and image processing.

“I’m excited to see Princeton teams leading in robotics competitions,” said Jennifer Rexford, the Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor in Engineering and chair of the Department of Computer Science. “The transition of robotics from controlled environments, like factories, to the complex human world brings tremendous opportunity to serve society, while also raising difficult technical challenges. Princeton is tackling these challenges by bringing advances in sensing and computation together to allow future robots to understand the world around them and interact safely in human society.”

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