Breakout Groups

Visible to the public 

Breakout Sessions

As part of the 2020 National Robitics Initiative PI meeting, we will hold breakout sessions on Friday, February 28 from 1:30pm - 3:00pm. Please be sure to sign up for a breakout session at

Breakout Topics

1. Research in Agricultural Robotics
2. Smart Materials
3. Urban Air Mobility

4. Ethics for Human-Robot Interaction

1.  Research in Agricultural Robotics

Description: We will discuss progress on recent grants awarded within the agriculture space of NRI 2.0 and allow for exchange. We also invite those interested in the NRI-Ag. program to participate.

Moderator: Steven Thomson, National Program Leader, United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Room: Executive Board Room

2.  Smart Materials

Description: This breakout session will highlight recent work on smart materials for robotics. We will discuss current challenges and future opportunities for smart materials to enable new capabilities for robots and autonomous systems across a wide variety of applications.

Moderator: Christoffer Heckman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado Boulder


  • Elliot Hawkes, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California Santa Barbara
  • Carmel Majidi, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
  • John Swensen, Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University

Room: Studio E

3. Urban Air Mobility

Description: In response to traffic congestion, Urban Air Mobility has been proposed as a new model for urban transportation. In this interactive breakout session, we will discuss challenges and opportunities across academia, government, and industry that will arise as we enter a new era of air travel.

Moderator: Ella Atkins, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan


  • Missy Cummings, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University
  • Carrick Detweiler, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Naira Hovakimyan, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Room: Studio F

4.  Ethics for Human-Robot Interaction

Description: This breakout session will focus on ethical implications of co-bot ubiquity across all aspects of life, including in healthcare, education, and in the workforce. We will have an interactive discussion on current practice and future priorities for addressing ethical challenges and concerns for research in human-robot interaction.

Moderator: Marynel Vazquez, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Yale University


  • Laurel Riek, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California San Diego
  • Taskin Padir, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University
  • Matthew Rueben, Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Southern California

Room: Studio B