2017 Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW)

May 18–19, 2017

Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago
6045 S. Kenwood Avenue (map)
Chicago, IL 60637


Thanks to everyone for making MRWR 2017 a success! We had over 140 active participants, 42 posters, 17 talks, and 2 excellent keynotes. Here are some pictures from the workshop. We are looking forward to seeing everyone next year!


The robotics field is experiencing tremendous growth as a result of algorithmic and technological advances, the availability of common, low-cost sensors and platforms, and a standardization in open-source development. These factors together with the growing community of talented, highly-trained roboticists combine to render feasible real-world applications in our homes and workplaces, and on our streets.

The Midwest Robotics Workshop (MWRW) is intended to bring together roboticists from academia and industry in and around Midwestern United States. Building on last year's workshop, it is an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their work with others and to network, with the goal of creating a more cohesive and vibrant robotics community in the Midwest. The workshop will feature invited talks by leading researchers, and an exciting collection of oral presentations and interactive poster sessions.

There is no cost to attend the workshop. Additionally, we we are offering a limited number of student lodging grants for the night of May 18 in order to encourage participation from outside the Chicagoland area.

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers.

Call for Participation

We invite all roboticists from the Midwest (broadly interpreted) to participate in the second annual Midwest Robotics Workshop to be held at TTI-Chicago on the University of Chicago campus (map) on May 18–19, 2017.

We encourage participants to use the workshop as an opportunity to present recent research either as a talk or during an interactive poster session. If you are interested in presenting, please submit a title and abstract summarizing your work. Since the workshop does not have published proceedings, abstracts that describe work that was previously published or is still in progress are welcome.

Invited Speakers

Jessy Grizzle (University of Michigan)

Jessy W. Grizzle received the Ph.D. in electrical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1983 and in 1984 held an NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science in Paris, France at the CNRS. Since September 1987, he has been with The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he the Jerry and Carol Levin Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan and is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research interests have often focused on theoretical aspects of nonlinear systems and control, including geometric methods for continuous- and discrete-time systems, and observer design in discrete time. He has been a consultant in the automotive industry since 1986, where he jointly holds sixteen patents dealing with emissions reduction through improved controller design. His current interest in bipedal locomotion grew out of a sabbatical in Strasbourg, France. Prof. Grizzle was elected Fellow of the IEEE in 1997. His awards include: with K.L. Dobbins and J.A. Cook (Ford Motor Company), 1992 Paper of the Year Award from the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society; with G. Abba (Univ. of Metz, France) and F. Plestan (Ecole Centrale, Nantes, France), the 2002 Axelby Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society; and with J. Sun (Univ. of Michigan) and J. Cook (Ford), the 2003 IEEE Control Systems Society Technology Award. He has served as Associate Editor for the Transactions on Automatic Control and Systems – Control Letters, Publications Chairman for the 1989 CDC, on the Control Systems Society's Board of Governors in 1997-1999, Associate Editor for Automatica 2002-2005, AACC Award Committee (2003-2005), and is currently a Senior Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control.

John Leonard (MIT)

John J. Leonard is Samuel C. Collins Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering and Associate Department Head for Research in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is also a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots. He holds the degrees of B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering and Science from the University of Pennsylvania (1987) and D.Phil. in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford (1994). Prof. Leonard joined the MIT faculty in 1996, after five years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Research Scientist in the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Laboratory. He was team leader for MIT's DARPA Urban Challenge team, which was one of eleven teams to qualify for the Urban Challenge final event and one of six teams to complete the race. He served as Co-Director of the Ford-MIT Alliance from 2009 to 2013. He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award (1998) and the King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Transactions on Robotics Paper Award (2006). He is an IEEE Fellow (2014).

Important Dates

April 18, 2017 Student Lodging Grant Application Deadline
May 1, 2017 Registration and Abstract Submission Deadline
May 18–19, 2017 Workshop


The workshop is starting at 10:00am on Thursday to allow time for people to commute to Chicago in the morning. It will end with lunch on Friday. Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days. The program will include invited and contributed talks, as well as poster sessions.

The following times are subject to change.

Thursday, May 18

10:00am–10:40am Breakfast (provided)
10:40am–11:00am Welcoming Remarks
11:00am–12:00pm Plenary Talk (Chair: Matthew Walter)
John Leonard (MIT), Improving Road Safety Through Autonomy: Challenges and Opportunities
12:00pm–01:00pm Lunch (provided)
01:00pm–03:00pm Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: Seth Hutchinson & Hyongju Park)
Elizabeth Mamantov (University of Michigan), A Manipulation Planning Toolbox for Cognitive Robotic Agents
Alexandra (Alli) Nilles (UIUC), Interesting Trajectories of Mobile Robots in Polygons
Maani Ghaffari Jadidi (University of Michigan), Sampling-based Incremental Information Gathering with Applications to Robotic Exploration and Environmental Monitoring
Wei Zhang (Ohio State University), Differential Game Approach for Planning under Adversarial Uncertainties
Brent Griffin (University of Michigan), Nonholonomic Virtual Constraints and Gait Optimization for Robust Walking Control
Dimitra Panagou (University of Michigan), Invited Talk: 3D Dynamic Planning and Coverage Control for Power-Constrained UAV Networks
03:00pm–04:20pm Poster Session I and Break
04:20pm–06:00pm Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: Matthew Johnson-Roberson)
Dale McConachie (University of Michigan), Bandit-Based Model Selection for Deformable Object Manipulation
Dhanvin Mehta (University of Michigan), Fast Discovery of Influential Outcomes for Risk-Aware MPDM
Charles Schaff (TTIC), Jointly Optimizing Placement and Inference for Beacon-based Localization
Maria Eugenia Cabrera (Purdue University), One-Shot Gesture Learning
Arash Ushani (University of Michigan), A Learning Approach for Real-Time Temporal Scene Flow Estimation from LIDAR Data

Friday, May 19

08:30am–10:00am Breakfast (provided) and Poster Session II
10:00am–11:00am Plenary Talk (Chair: Ram Vasudevan)
Jessy Grizzle (University of Michigan), Agile and Dynamic Bipedal Locomotion: Taking on the Wave Field
11:00am–01:00pm Invited/Contributed Talks (Chair: Edwin Olson)
Richard Voyles (Purdue University), Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing NNMI
Brenna Argall (Northwestern University), The Question of Control for Interactions with Assistive Robots
Deanna Gates (University of Michigan), Optimizing Individual Performance with Powered Ankle Prostheses
David Cappelleri (Purdue University), Microrobots to Micro Aerial Vehicles: Robots Interacting with the Environment
Michael Zinn (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Hybrid Continuum-Rigid Robotic Catheters for Minimally Invasive Applications
Elliott Rouse (Northwestern University), The Hidden Mechanics of Human Locomotion: Implications in Legged Robotics
01:00pm–01:10pm Closing Remarks
01:10pm–03:00pm Lunch (provided)

Poster Session I (Thursday)

  1. Daniel Rakita (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Methods for Effective Mimicry-based Teleoperation of Robot Arms
  2. Amirhossein Ghasemi (University of Michigan), Haptic Shared Control for Teleoperated Ground Vehicles
  3. Guangying Jiang (Purdue University), Purpose-Built UAV for Physical Sampling of Trace Contamination
  4. Vikas Dhiman (University of Michigan), Implicitly Mapping by Learning to Navigate
  5. Andrea Daniele (TTI-Chicago), Navigational Instruction Generation as Inverse Reinforcement Learning with Neural Machine Translation
  6. Zhenyu Gan (University of Michigan), Exploring the Role of Passive Dynamics in Bipeds
  7. Xiangyu Ni (University of Notre Dame), Searching for Periodic Gait for Ankle-actuated Compass Walker Using Bezeir Polynomial Associated with The Center of Mass
  8. Pengcheng Zhao (University of Michigan), Control Synthesis for Nonlinear Optimal Control via Convex Relaxations
  9. Maria Guix Noguera (Purdue University), Micro-Force Sensing Mobile Microrobot
  10. Guru Subramani (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Identifying Haptic Properties in Robot Demonstrations
  11. Yingshi Zheng (University of Michigan), Improving Mobility through Latency Compensation in Teleoperated Ground Vehicles
  12. Ryan Marcotte (University of Michigan), SAM: A Stochastic Adversarial Model for Efficient Pursuit of a Bounded Evader
  13. Ramviyas Parasuraman (Purdue University), Multi-Robot Rendezvous Control and Optimization
  14. Hongyi Wang (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Encoding Human Motion Using Staggered Poses Keyframe Reduction
  15. Jun Han Bae (Purdue University), Technology in Water Monitoring System: CPS and Robotics
  16. Gabriel Wilfong (Purdue University), Increased Production Efficiency and Reduced Environmental Impact Through Use of Intelligent and Efficient Autonomous Agricultural Vehicles
  17. Emma Treadway (University of Michigan), Realizing Cobots with Hydraulic Transmissions
  18. Tian Zhou (Purdue University), Early Turn-taking Prediction for Human Robot Collaboration in the Operating Room
  19. Hyongju Park (University of Michigan), Robust Dynamic Vehicle Routing for On-Demand Systems Under Light Load
  20. Chris Maurice (University of Notre Dame), Postural Balance of an Underactuated Biped Robot with a Reaction Wheel
  21. Daniel McArthur (Purdue University), Interacting-BoomCopter UAV Design for Aerial Manipulation

Poster Session II (Friday)

  1. Alexander Broad and Deepak Gopinath (Northwestern University), An Empirical Analysis of Methods for Learning Robot Kinematics from Demonstration
  2. Shenyu Liu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Path Planning and Obstacle Avoidance for Under-Actuated Systems using Heat Flow Method
  3. Daniel Bruder (University of Michigan), Model Based Control of Fiber Reinforced Elastofluidic Enclosures
  4. Jie Li (University of Michigan), WaterGAN: Real-time Underwater Image Color Correction
  5. Steven Parkinson (University of Michigan), Parallel Scan Matching on a GPU for Online Mapping
  6. Nelson Rosa (Northwestern University), Using Equilibria and Virtual Holonomic Constraints to Generate Families of Walking Gaits
  7. Tan Chen (University of Notre Dame), Using a Nonlinear Mechanical Control Coupling Metric for Biped Robot Control and Design
  8. Jonathan Juett (University of Michigan), Learning to Reach and Grasp using an Infant-Inspired Model of Peri-Personal Space
  9. Zack Woodruff (Northwestern University), Planning and Control for Dynamic, Nonprehensile, and Hybrid Manipulation Tasks
  10. Benjamin Johnson (Purdue University), Local Magnetic Field Design, Characterization, and Path Planning for Independent Control of Multiple Mobile Microrobots
  11. Kevin Leyden (University of Notre Dame), Fractional-Order Control for Two-Legged Dynamic Walking
  12. Siddarth Jain (Northwestern University), Estimating Surface Geometries in Point Clouds
  13. Shannon Danforth and Patrick Holmes (University of Michigan), Human Feedback Control to Maintain Trajectories of Task-Relevant Variables During Sit-to-Stand Motion
  14. Chembian Parthiban (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Performance Evaluation and Transparency of an Admittance based Haptic Device
  15. Yanzhe Cui (Purdue University), A Software Architecture Supporting Self-Adaptation of Wireless Control Networks
  16. Joshua Mangleson (University of Michigan), Pairwise Consistent Measurement Set Maximization for Robust Multi-robot Map Merging
  17. Sangjun Lee (Purdue University), Fusion-based Detection of Sensor Attacks with Application to Navigation of Autonomous Vehicles
  18. Nils Smit-Anseeuw (University of Michigan), The Energetic Benefit of Robotic Gait Selection: A Case Study on the Robot RAMone
  19. Zhongtian Dai (TTI-Chicago), Notepad-Augmented Environments in Reinforcement Learning
  20. Joaquin Gabaldon (University of Michigan), A Framework for Enhanced Localization of Marine Mammals using Auto-Detected Video and Wearable Sensor Data Fusion
  21. Audrey Sedal (University of Michigan), A Constitutive Model for Torsional Loads on Fluid-Driver Soft Robots


There are two hotels nearby TTI-Chicago that provide shuttle service throughout the University of Chicago campus: The Hyatt Place Chicago-South and the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Chicago Lake Shore. There are also several reasonable options in downtown Chicago, such as Hotel Felix.

We will provide a limited number of grants for student lodging at a nearby hotel for the night of May 18. Please see the Registration section for information on how to apply.

Parking: A limited number of parking passes are available for TTIC's parking lot. Please contact the organizers to reserve one. Park in the building's parking lot and get your parking pass from the security guard in the lobby. There is also free parking in the commuter parking lot at 60th St. and Stony Island Ave. and free street parking on many streets near TTIC (just beware of "permit parking" and "street cleaning" signs!). Parking can be found on 61st Street (between Woodlawn Ave and Blackstone Ave), on Dorchester Street (between 60th and 61st Streets).


Please register for the workshop here. There is no cost to register.

We are awarding a limited number of lodging grants for students from outside the Chicagoland area who would like to attend. The grants will provide a one-night stay at a nearby hotel on May 18. Please fill out this form if you would like to apply.


Matthew Walter, TTI-Chicago (Organizer)
Ram Vasudevan, University of Michigan (Co-organizer)
Seth Hutchinson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Co-organizer)