UW CSE alum Igor Mordatch (Ph.D., ’15), now a postdoc at UC Berkeley, is attracting attention for his efforts to enable robots to teach themselves how to perform complex movements and tasks. Mordatch’s latest work, which is featured in MIT Technology Review, relies in part on his past collaboration with UW CSE professors Emo Todorov, who leads the Movement Control Laboratory, and Zoran Popović, director of the Center for Game Science.
From the article:
“For all the talk of machines becoming intelligent, getting a sophisticated robot to do anything complex, like grabbing a heavy object and moving it from one place to another, still requires many hours of careful, patient programming.
“Igor Mordatch, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, is working on a different approach–one that could help hasten the arrival of robot helpers, if not overlords. He gives a robot an end goal and an algorithm that lets it figure out how to achieve the goal for itself….
“As he works on a better teaching process, Mordatch is mainly using software that simulates robots. This virtual model, first developed with his Ph.D. advisor at the University of Washington, Emo Todorov, and another professor at the school, Zoran Popović, has some understanding of how to make contact with the ground or with objects. The learning algorithm then uses these guidelines to search for the most efficient way to achieve a goal.”