MEMS Seminar: David Watkins, "Building Foundation Models for Robotics"

Feb 28

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 12:00PM to 1:00PM


David Watkins

Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science Spring 2024 Seminar Series with David Watkins, Ph.D., Research Lead at the Boston Dynamics AI Institute will give a talk on "Building Foundation Models for Robotics."

Abstract: The world of natural language processing has been completely revolutionized by the advent of large language models. This same revolution is coming to robotics by changing how we build policies to control robots. In this talk, we will discuss the improvements made to robotics so far, some of the work we are doing at the AI Institute to improve robots with foundation models, and the future directions the field will be going in. We will discuss the differences between grounding language intermediates and leveraging other modalities to build more robust robot policies.

Bio: David Watkins is a research lead at the AI Institute working on building foundation models for robotics. David earned his PhD from Columbia University working with Professor Peter Allen with funding from the Army Research Lab and NVIDIA. During his graduate work, he collaborated with Google Robotics and ARL to develop novel methods for robotic mobile manipulation and shape understanding. Since starting at the Institute, he has worked to build a team developing state-of-the-art machine learning methods to make robotics better.