As robots become part of our world, we demand that they understand us, predict our needs and wants, and adapt to us as we change our moods and minds, learn, grow, and age. The nexus created by major improvements in machine learning for machine perception, navigation, and natural language processing has enabled human-robot interaction in real-world contexts, just as the need for human services continues to grow, from elder care to nursing to education and training, positively impacting user health and quality of life. This talk will discuss work that brings robotics together with machine learning for user modeling, signal processing, and affective computing in order to enable robots to understand, interact, and adapt to users’ ever-changing needs. The talk will cover methods and challenges of using multi-modal interaction data and expressive robot behavior to monitor, coach, motivate, and support a wide variety of user populations and use cases. We will cover insights from work with users across the age span (children, adults, elderly), ability span (typically developing, autism, stroke, Alzheimer’s), contexts (schools, therapy centers, homes), and deployment durations (up to 6 months), as well as commercial implications.
Prof. Maja Matarić is Chan Soon-Shiong Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics at the University of Southern California (USC), founding director of the USC Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center, and Interim Vice President of Research. She received a PhD and MS in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence MIT, and BS in Computer Science from the University of Kansas. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, IEEE, AAAI, and ACM, recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring, the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Innovation, the Okawa Foundation Award, NSF Career Award, MIT TR35 Innovation Award, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award, and the USC Remarkable Woman Award, among others. Prof. Mataric´ is the author of the popular textbook “The Robotics Primer” and has published extensively (h-index 100; 39,594 citations as of 1/30/21). She has served on a number of advisory boards, including the National Science Foundation CISE Division, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council, Willow Garage, and Evolution Robotics.
Prof. Matarić has made a series of pioneering contributions to the field of robotics. Her early work was in robot navigation and mapping; she then made contributions to multi-robot coordination and swarm control. Next, she did some of the earliest work in robot learning from demonstration. She is now best known for founding the field of socially assistive robotics, where her research is developing human-robot interaction algorithms and methods for supporting behavior change in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education. Her research has developed robot-assisted therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders, stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors, and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and has deployed robots in complex environments including homes, nursing homes, hospitals, and classrooms for weeks and months at a time, collecting unprecedented datasets that enabled novel models and personalization strategies . She is also co-founder of Embodied, Inc. where she served as chief science officer in 2016-2018; in May 2020 Embodied launched Moxie, an in-home socially assistive robot for children.
Prof. Matarić is recognized nationally for the scale and impact of her mentoring and K-12 STEM outreach activities. She received the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring in 2011 from President Obama, and the USC Mellon Mentoring Award and Provost’s Mentoring Award. She is the lead of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering K-12 STEM Center, and has raised federal, corporate, and foundation support for and developed free open-source curricular materials for elementary, middle school, and high school robotics courses, K-12 teacher development programs, K-12 STEM equity and inclusion programs, and after-school robotics programs, and competitions training, all aiming to engage student interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics.
Prof. Matarić’s university leadership experience includes serving as the USC Interim Vice President of Research (2020-2021), USC Viterbi School of Engineering Vice Dean of Research (2006-2019), and the elected President of the USC faculty and the Academic Senate (2006-2007).