Robert Platt Jr.


Assistant Professor
College of Computer and Information Science
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave
208B West Village H, attn Robert Platt
Boston, MA 02115
rplatt (at) ccs (dot) neu (dot) edu

Prior to coming to Northeastern, I was (briefly) an Assistant Professor in the CSE Department at SUNY Buffalo. Prior to that, I was a Research Scientist at MIT in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and a technical lead with the Robonaut 2 project at NASA Johnson Space Center.

Research Interests

I am interested in robotics and machine learning with a focus on perception, planning, and control in uncertain environments. I am particularly interested in applications to robot manipulation.

Recent News

May 22, 2015:

My students and I are organizing and hosting the New England Manipulation Symposium (NEMS) this year at Northeastern. The theme of NEMS is robotic grasping and manipulation research, which includes perception, mechanics, and algorithms. Please attend! And, please consider giving a talk, a poster presentation, or a demo!

September 23, 2014:

Our work (joint with MIT) on using GelSight tactile sensing to manipulate and insert small parts (see Localization and Manipulation of Small Parts Using GelSight Tactile Sensing), has been covered by MIT News article, and several other news outlets including Washington Post acticle, and

July 31, 2014:

Two high school Juniors, Ali El-Gabri of the Al-Noor Academy and Nathanial Mahowald of the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, just finished their work in our lab as part of the 2014 Northeastern University Young Scholars Program. Ali and Nathanial developed a piece of software that enables a human to control how a robot grasps simply by pointing. The human stands next to a robot and points to an object within the robot's workspace. Then, the software developed here figures out the object toward which the human is pointing and commands our Enveloping Affordance grasping software (ROS package here) to perform the corresponding grasp.

July 13, 2014:

Our workshop, Information-based Grasp and Manipulation Planning at Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) organized by me and Sachin Patil, was very successful. I thought we had a terrific group of speakers and I think that the workshop highlighted some great current work. Thanks to everyone who participated!

May 17, 2014:

Our paper, Localization and Manipulation of Small Parts Using GelSight Tactile Sensing, was accepted to IROS 2014. We localize the pose of an object held in the robot's hand using a new type of tactile sensing. The method is very practical and enables us to do cable insertions that would be hard to do any other way.

May 31, 2014:

I will be giving an invited talk at The Workshop on Autonomous Grasping and Manipulation: An Open Challenge.

April 13, 2014:

Our paper, Localizing Handle-like Grasp Affordances in 3D Point Clouds, was accepted to the 2014 International Symposium on Experimental Robotics. This approach works well for novel objects. Check out the video! New: you can use this on your robot by installing our ROS package.

December 21, 2013:

Our collaborator, Team TRACLabs, has placed 6th in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials! Congrats to our students, Mordechai Rynderman and Nate Roscup, who were part of this effort. 2014 will be very exciting!

October 7, 2013:

Andreas Ten Pas presented his poster, Localizing Grasp Affordances in 3-D Points Clouds Using Taubin Quadric Fitting at the 2013 Northeast Robotics Colloquium (NERC). Dimitrios Kanoulas presented his poster, Surface Patches for Rough Terrain Perception.

PHD Positions Available

I am looking for talented PhD students interested in studying robotics to start in Fall 2014. Please email me with your CV if interested.