Fall 2008 Symposium


Mobile Robotics –
The Next Transformative Technology

By Assistant Professor John Spletzer - Lehigh Univ.

Date : Monday October 20th, 2008

Time : 7:30 PM

Location: Armstrong Auditorium, Caputo Hall 210

Robot systems have long been relegated to use on factory floors or in isolated
industrial sites where people are excluded by design. However, a dramatic paradigm shift is on the horizon. In the future, most robots will operate in the immediate vicinity of and service to people. In some areas, this has already begun. The number of domestic service robots is expected to approach 6 million by 2009 an order of magnitude higher than 2003 levels! This tremendous growth can be attributed in part to the reduction in size, cost, and performance of computing andsensor systems, as well as advances in algorithms enabling autonomy. This talk will provide an overview of the state of the field of mobile robotics. Motivating examples taken from the speaker's own research with smart wheelchair systems and autonomous automobiles will be presented. The talk will conclude with a discussion on some of the challenges to be faced in order for this vision of ubiquitous robotics to be realized.

John Spletzer is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Lehigh
University. Professor Spletzer received his PhD in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania (CIS) in 2003. He also holds Master degrees in CIS (Penn, `99) and Mechanical Engineering (Johns Hopkins, `93). Prior to returning to full-time studies for his PhD, Professor Spletzer served as a test engineer for the U. S. Army, where he helped develop NBC defense equipment and related sensor systems to include long-range infrared (IR) LIDAR systems, as well as passive IR viewers for driving in degraded visibility conditions.

His research focus is mobile robotics, with emphasis on assistive technologies and multi-agent systems. In 2007, he served as co-Team Leader on the Ben Franklin Racing Team, which was one of only six teams to complete the DARPA Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle race. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and private corporations to include Freedom Sciences, Lockheed Martin, and Thales Communications.