MAE Seminar – Advancing AI for Autonomous Field Robots


12:45 pm-1:45 pm
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MAE-A Room 303
939 Sweetwater Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


MAE Seminar – Advancing AI for Autonomous Field Robots

Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at 12:50pm, Location: MAE-A 303

Dr. Girish Chowdhary, Associate Professor, Donald Biggar Willet Faculty Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In this talk I will describe my group’s work in advancing AI for creating autonomous robots for harsh, uncertain, and dynamic environments. Autonomous robots that do challenging tasks without supervision for months, years, or even days are not yet practical. In addition, increasing the levels of autonomy while keeping costs low is one of the key technical barrier facing ubiquitous adoption of field robots.

I will present several ways in which my group is advancing foundations of robotics to overcome these barriers. A key highlight will be our recent work in agricultural robotics. Specifically, our cadre of compact and autonomous field robots designed for high-throughput under-canopy phenotyping, cover-crop planting, fertilizing, plant manipulation, and the AI algorithms that power them. I will highlight our algorithmic contributions to autonomous robot navigation, adaptive control, and perception in cluttered and unstructured environments. I will then discuss advances to visual navigation, adaptive control, onboard AI, and robotic algorithms and systems for plant manipulation. I will end the presentation with a vision towards the future of field robotics

Girish Chowdhary is an associate professor and Donald Biggar Willet Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the Director of the USDA/NIFA Farm of the Future, and leader of the Autonomous Farming thrust at the Illinois Center for Digital Agriculture. Girish holds a joint appointment with Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Computer Science, he is a member of the UIUC Coordinated Science Lab, and holds affiliate appointments in Aerospace Engineering and Electrical Engineering. He holds a PhD (2010) from Georgia Institute of Technology in Aerospace Engineering. He was a postdoc at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011-2013), and an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University (2013-2016). He also worked with the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR’s) Institute of Flight Systems for around three years (2003-2006). Girish is the author of over 90 publications in autonomy and robotics, and PI on NSF, NIFA, AFOSR, ARPA-E, and DOE grants, and an ONR MURI. He is the winner of the Air Force Young Investigator Award, and several best paper awards, including a best systems paper award at RSS 2018 for his recent work on the agricultural robot TerraSentia. He is the co-founder of EarthSense Inc., a company that has deployed over 150 agricultural robots for phenotyping, cover-cropping, and other agricultural management. He is the co-founder of EarthSense Inc. (, working towards making sustainable farming profitable with ultralight field robots

MAE Faculty Host: Dr. Yu Wang