Justin W. Hart

Photo Credit: Dan Leyzberg / Yale University

I am currently a visiting scholar in the CARIS Lab at the University of British Columbia where I am advised by Professor Elizabeth Croft. Pending the defense of my dissertation at Yale University where I researched in the Social Robotics Lab, advised by Professor Brian Scassellati, I will be accepting a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the CARIS Lab.

In my current work, I work on CHARM (Collaborative Human-Focused Assistive Robotics for Manufacturing). The goal of collaborative manufacturing is to break down the barriers in factories that separate robots from humans, allowing them to safely work alongside one another. In CHARM, my role is to develop the mechanisms that will allow humans and robots to clearly, naturally communicate with one another, enabling them to quickly, safely, and effectively work together.

For my PhD research, I constructed a robot that is able to autonomously learn about its sensory and motor capabilities, breaking from the standard practice in which such models, if present at all, are constructed during the design of the robot, by engineers, or meticulously calibrated offline. If robots are able to understand themselves in this way, it will open the possibility of highly robust machines that are able to adapt flexibly to different use cases or to damage, in software, and very precise machines that continuously self-calibrate. The models that my robot constructs are inspired by the process by which children learn about their sensory and physical capabilities and how they are able to interact with the environment, which represent the earliest forms of self-awareness to develop during infancy.

Descriptions of my work have appeared in New Scientist, BBC News, NBC News, Business Standard, CBS SmartPlanet, El Mundo, the Yale Graduate School Newsletter, and GE's Focus Forward Films. I also gave a talk at Ideacity which can be viewed online.