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The Autonomy Lab builds life-like machines. Our goal is to increase the autonomy (i.e. self-control and self-maintenance) of robots and other machines.

There are two main reasons to study autonomous machines:

  1. Scientific: an autonomous machine is a concrete test of hypotheses about mechanisms of intelligent behaviour. We come at this from two directions: a bottom-up approach examining the necessary and sufficient conditions for rational behavior; and a top-down approach realizing and testing models of human and animal intelligence.
  2. Economic: by definition, autonomous machines can do more work than those which require human supervision. Autonomous robots could make society more efficient by enabling new kinds of industry, science and exploration.

The aquisition and management of resources such as energy and space is a fundamental, unavoidable task for all living things. From an ecological perspective, intelligent behaviour can be seen as rational manipulation of resources. This observation underlies our approach to building autonomous systems.

Our research interests include:

  • Highly autonomous, long-lived robots
  • Behaviour and sensing for outdoor natural and semi-structured environments
  • Robot and animal foraging behaviour
  • Large-population multi-robot systems and mitigating spatial interference
  • Human-robot interaction, particularly for multi-robot systems
  • Behaviour for UAVs
  • Robot simulation, programming and research tools
The Lab is directed by Richard Vaughan. Our computer systems are managed by Mani Monajjemi.


2016.8.19: Congratulations to Mani Monajjemi who successfully defended his PhD thesis today. Mani will join the next big thing this fall. furbie

2016.8.3: Congratulations to Seyed Abbas Sadat who successfully defended his PhD thesis today. Abbas will join the Bosch Research and Technology group this fall. furbie

2015.7.1: Posted some pictures of the lab at work recently on the people page. We are looking for great PhD students to join us. We live in Vancouver, and make robots that work well.

2015.5.6: Jake Bruce posted the complete SFU Mountain Dataset. Our robot completed several 4km traverses of a mountain trail in British Columbia, with a 300m altitude change, in various weather and lighting conditions. We provide over 150GB of camera, LIDAR, GPS and other sensor data.

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