Professor Sara Bernardini (Royal Holloway University of London)
Tue 22 Feb 2022, 13:00 - 14:00
Informatics Forum (IF-G.07)

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Jodie Cameron (jcamero9)

Title: Intelligent Autonomous Systems in Extreme Environments


Abstract: In this talk, I will present my research on intelligent autonomous systems for extreme environments. In particular, I will discuss the open problems and research opportunities that I have identified through my work on three ambitious projects funded by industry and Innovate UK within the program “Robotics and AI: Inspect, Maintain and Repair in Extreme Environments”. MIMRee is the world’s first fully autonomous multi-robot platform for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing off-shore wind turbines; the Connect-R system features self-building modular robots for nuclear decommissioning; and the Prometheus drone is a fully autonomous reconfigurable robot for geotechnical surveys in unknown voids. Although these projects target different domains and have different final goals, they share a set of challenges that need to be overcome to bring AI and robotics to full fruition in sophisticated missions in challenging settings. This talk will highlight how we made progress towards this objective and deployed our systems in representative real-world environments.


Bio: Sara Bernardini is a professor of Artificial Intelligence at Royal Holloway University of London. In 2018/19, she was also a visiting professor at MIT and previously held positions at King’s College London, UCL and NASA Ames Research Center. Her research focuses on designing intelligent autonomous systems for complex, real-world applications and lies at the intersection between different areas: AI, advanced robotics, and mathematical optimisation. She has extensive experience in building cutting-edge AI technology for extreme environments. She has worked in several domains such as space mission operations, nuclear decommissioning, mining, underwater missions, and offshore energy. Prof Bernardini is currently a co-PI of three ambitious projects funded by industry and the UK’s Innovation Agency: VersaTile (Transforming warehousing and distribution with industry-leading AI planning and system controls), SoAR (Squad of Adaptive Robots), and Demeter (Intelligence Scavenging), the last two funded within the programme “Robots for a Safer World”. Before, she was the co-PI of three other large projects within the same programme: Connect-R, MIMRee, and Prometheus. Prof Bernardini’s research has been regularly published in top-ranked AI and robotics journals and conferences, such as AIJ, JAIR, RA-L, TOCHI, IROS, and ICAPS. Her paper ‘Through the Lens of Sequence Submodularity’ received the ICAPS-2020 Best Paper Honourable Mention Award. Prof Bernardini was an Application Track Co-Chair for ICAPS-2020 and the General Chair for the 3rd Summer School in Cognitive Robotics. She will be an Associate Program Chair for AAAI-2023.