Engineering Speaker Series: James McLurkin
James McLurkin, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Rice University
"The Future of Robotics is Swarms: Why a Thousand Robots are Better than One."
Multi-robot systems are the future of a futuristic field, because large populations of robots can solve many practical applications faster, cheaper, and in fundamentally different ways. The key to realize this potential are distributed algorithms, and a whole lot of really cheap little robots. These ideas aren't new, ants and bees have been using this approach for 120 million years, and we can learn much from them. This talk motivates the need for swarms of robots, and explains the technology required to produce group behaviors on one hundred robots. Fundamental multi-robot distributed algorithms are demystified using video clips, live robot demonstrations, and audience participation and to punctuate the main points. The presentation concludes with an autobiographical sketch that traces the events, ideas, and toys that have influenced McLurkin's career, from cardboard boxes and tape, to LEGO bricks and video games.
James McLurkin is an Assistant Professor at Rice University in the Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on developing distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems, which is software that produces complex group behaviors from the interactions of many simple individuals. These ideas are not new: ants, bees, wasps, and termites have be running this type of software for 120 million years. The Swarm was originally created during McLurkin's five-year tenure as Lead Research Scientist at iRobot and was the largest swarm in the world at the time. McLurkin was the 2003 recipient of the Lemelson-MIT student prize for invention. He holds a S.B. in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T., a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and a S.M. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from M.I.T.
Reception: 5 pm, Rady Room (601NH)