2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Gaining Vision the Robotic Way

#sxsw #robots

Robotics has become a major part of our day to day life, it has enabled us not only to speed up industrial processes, but solve mobility and transportation issues for travelers with vision impairment and others. In recent years, researchers have made significant strides in applying advanced technologies in computer vision, robotics and artificial intelligence to improve mobility and navigation of travelers with vision impairment. SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) combined with other event horizon approaches have led to new situational awareness for navigation both indoors and outdoors. This session will explore the opportunities associated with advances in sensing and vision-free interfaces and robotic technology for route planning and guidance. It will bring different experts, technologists & perspectives from the USDOT, other agencies, academia and private sector to further discuss this emerging trend, and to look for ways to collaboratively work to further this research.



David Bevly


Auburn University

Dr. David M. Bevly is is the Albert Smith Jr. Endowed Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University where he directs the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB) focusing on the control and navigation of vehicles using GPS in conjunction with other sensors, such as Inertial Navigation System (INS) sensors. The GAVLAB's research thrusts are focused towards vehicle dynamics and transportation systems, including heavy trucks, passenger cars, off-road vehicles, as well as autonomous and unmanned vehicles. Dr. Bevly received his B.S. from Texas A&M University in 1995, M.S from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997, and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2001 all in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Bevly’s research interests include vehicle control systems, sensor fusion, GPS, state estimation, and parameter identification, as well as vehicle navigation and instrumentation. He has developed algorithms for control of off-road vehicles and methods for identifying critical vehicle parameters using GPS and inertial sensors.


Mohammed Yousuf

Research Engineer


Mohammed Yousuf is a research engineer in FHWA's Office of Operations Research and Development and works on enabling technology solutions for intelligent transportation systems. He is leading the new Accessible Transportation Technology Research Initiative (ATTRI) which will focus on improving mobility of travelers with disabilities using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and technology. He is also involved in research on assistive technology for pedestrians with vision impairments and other disabilities under FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program. As a member of the White House GeoAccess Challenge Team, Yousuf worked on the report, Data-Enabled Travel: How Geo-Data Can Support Inclusive Transportation, Tourism, and Navigation through Communities. He is a member of the Interagency Committee of Disability Research (ICDR) and TBR ABE60, the committee on accessible transportation and mobility. Prior to joining FHWA, he worked at General Motors and Chrysler Corporation in vehicle product design/development, telematics and infotainment, and advanced service diagnostics. He has a B.S. in electronics and communication engineering and a M.S. in computer engineering.


William Bluethmann

Robotics Engineer


Bill Bluethmann is a robotics engineer working at the NASA Johnson Space Center in the Robotic Systems Technology Branch in the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at the NASA Johnson Space Center. He has nearly 25 years developing robotics systems from sub system engineer through project management.

Bill currently serves as the Project Manager of the Human Robotics Systems Project within NASA’s Game Changing Development program. The Human Robotics Systems project is a multi-center team consisting of the best NASA has to offer in the area of research and development robotics. Bill also leads the rovers and mobility systems development at JSC. Systems within the portfolio include the Chariot prototype rover that serves as the general purpose platform for crew surface mobility, the Centaur 2 rover that serves as a mobility base for the Robonaut 2 humanoid and the Modular Robotic Vehicle, a testbed for a safe, by-wire, fail operational battery electric vehicle

Since 1998, Bill has been as member of NASA’s Robonaut team, serving as the project’s software development lead throughout the early phases of the system’s development, until taking on the challenge of mobility for the lunar surface in late 2006. Robonaut is a humanoid robot designed to assist astronauts in space. The current Robonaut is currently being tested on the International Space Station as the first humanoid robot in space. As a member of the Robonaut team, Bill led the software development for the Robonaut 1 series, Spidernaut, and Centaur robots. He also has a proven record integrating new robots, having lead the integration of an intelligent cockpit for time delayed operations and the Centaur base for Robonaut.

Bill holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas, where as a graduate student he studied manipulation and force control with hydraulic manipulators.


YingLi Tian


City College of New York

Dr. Ying-Li Tian is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the City College of New York. She received her PhD from the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1996 and her BS and MS from TianJin University, China in 1987 and 1990. She is experienced in computer vision topics ranging from object recognition, scene understanding, to human behavior analysis, facial expression recognition, gesture recognition, and assistive technology.
As an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, she co-taught a course on Automatic Video Surveillance (Spring 2008). Dr. Tian has published more than 130 papers in journals and conferences and has filed more than 30 patents. She is a senior member of IEEE.

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