Dean’s Special Speaker - Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley

Event time: 
Friday, October 6, 2023 - 2:00pm
Davies Auditorium See map
15 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Dean’s Special Speaker
Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley

Refreshments at 1:30

Host: Tesca Fitzgerald

Title: The New Wave in Robotic Grasping


Robots are klutzes. The ability to grasp arbitrary objects is essential for robots in warehouses, operating rooms, and homes. Grasping is easy for humans but remains a Grand Challenge for the field of Robotics. The First Wave of robot grasping research was purely analytical, applying variations of screw theory to exact knowledge of pose, shape, and contact mechanics. The Second Wave was purely empirical: end-to-end hyperparametric function approximation (Deep Learning) based on human demonstrations or time-consuming self-exploration. The “New Wave” of research considers hybrid methods that combine analytic models with stochastic sampling and Deep Learning models. I’ll present this history with new results from our lab on grasping diverse and previously-unknown objects.


Ken has been interested in robots, rockets, and rebels since he was a kid. He’s skeptical about claims that humans are on the verge of being replaced by Superintelligent machines yet optimistic about the potential of technology to improve the human condition. Ken developed the first provably complete algorithm for part feeding and the first robot on the Internet. In 1995 he was awarded the Presidential Faculty Fellowship and in 2005 was elected IEEE Fellow: “For contributions to networked telerobotics and geometric algorithms for automation.” Ken founded UC Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture public lecture series in 1997 serves on the Advisory Board of the RoboGlobal Exchange Traded Fund. Ken is Chief Scientist at Ambidextrous Robotics and on the Editorial Board of the journal Science Robotics. He served as Chair of the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department and co-founded the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering. Short documentary films he co-wrote were selected for Sundance and one was nominated for an Emmy Award. He lives in the Bay Area and is madly in love with his wife, filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain, and their two daughters.