Brown University Robotics strives to realize robots and autonomous systems that are effective collaborators for humans. Research and classes at Brown explore problems in human-robot interaction, robot learning & perception, robotic protocols & data representation, security, autonomous control, and dexterous manipulation. Through the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative we work on cross disciplinary Robotics research with other departments such as Engineering or CLPS.

Featured Work: The Million Object Challenge


George Konidaris - Assistant Professor

George Konidaris is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brown University. Previously he was an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Duke University, and a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. He holds a BScHons from the University of the Witwatersrand, an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was a recipient of a 2015 DARPA Young Faculty Award.

Michael Littman - Professor

Michael Littman is the Co-Director of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. He works in reinforcement learning, but has done work in machine learning, game theory, computer networking, partially observable Markov decision process solving, computer solving of analogy problems and other areas. Littman received his Ph.D. in computer science from Brown University in 1996. From 1996-1999, he was a professor at Duke University. From 2000-2002, he worked at AT&T. From 2002-2012, he was a professor at Rutgers University; he chaired the department from 2009-12. In Summer 2012, he returned to Brown University as a full professor.

Stefanie Tellex - Assistant Professor

Stefanie Tellex an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Brown University. She completed her Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab in 2010, where she developed models for the meanings of spatial prepositions and motion verbs. Her postdoctoral work at MIT CSAIL focused on creating robots that understand natural language. She has published at SIGIR, HRI, RSS, AAAI, IROS, and ICMI, winning Best Student Paper at SIGIR and ICMI. She was named one of IEEE Spectrum’s AI’s 10 to Watch and won the Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award at Brown University.

Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative

The Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative (HCRI) is a group of Brown University faculty, students, and affiliates dedicated to robotics as a means to tackle the problems the world faces today. Beyond pursuing the goal of technological advancement, we want to ensure that these advancements are applicable and beneficial economically and socially. We are working across many disciplines to document the societal needs and applications of human-robot interaction research as well as the ethical, legal, and economic questions that will arise with its development. Our research ultimately aims to help create and understand robots that coexist harmoniously with humans. The HCRI unites Brown University faculty and students across numerous departments and schools who are dedicated to robotics as an innovative and societally beneficial technology. Common commitments include (a) identifying societal needs that robots can help fulfill; (b) advancing science and technology of robots that fulfill these needs; and (c) studying and integrating into design the societal impact of robotic technologies, with a goal of averting labor replacement and privileged access to technology.

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Humans 2 Robots Lab

We are at the cusp of a revolution in robotic technology that will fundamentally change how we live and work. Hospital robots will check on patients and report their status to nurses, saving time and improving patient outcomes. Childcare robots will help parents with chores such as assisting at diaper changing or feeding, so that families can spend high-quality time together. Manufacturing robots will collaborate with people to assemble complex objects on reconfigurable assembly lines, increasing the efficiency and flexibility of factory floors. The robotic revolution will approach and surpass the ubiquity and usefulness of the computer revolution, because robots can change not only the virtual world, but the physical world as well. The aim of our research program is to create robots that collaborate with people to meet their needs, so that human-robot collaboration approaches the ease of human-human collaboration. To create collaborative robots, we focus on three key challenges: 1) perceiving the world using the robot’s sensors; 2) communicating with people to understand their needs and how to meet them; and 3) acting to change the world in ways that meet people’s needs.

H2R Lab H2R People H2R Publications Million Object Challenge

Intelligent Robot Lab

The Intelligent Robot Lab is dedicated to the development of generally intelligent autonomous robots that are capable of solving a wide range of tasks in unknown and unstructured environments. The IRL is directed by Professor George Konidaris, and is based in the Department of Computer Science at Brown University. It was formerly based at Duke, as part of Duke Robotics. The IRL conducts interdisciplinary research spanning robotics, machine learning, task and motion planning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence, though our research can often be broadly categorized as falling into the areas of intelligent robotics, mobile manipulation, and reinforcement learning. We both develop new algorithms and discover new ways to integrate existing algorithms into complete intelligent systems that work in the real world.

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RLAB Group

The big question the RLAB (reinforcement learning & adaptive behavior) group seeks to address is how to create software that can make real world decisions to achieve explicit objectives grounded in experience. The main projects underway at the moment are: Learning from human-provided evaluative feedback.

  • Teaching a machine learner to develop rich task-oriented representations.
  • Deep reinforcement learning.
  • Learning for personalization.
  • End-user teaching and programming of smart home devices.


Robotics researchers and students at Brown have access to a number of physical resources to aid in their research. There are a number of robots that can be used:

  • 3 Baxters
  • 1 PR 2
  • 2 Naos
  • 5 Beam telepresence robots
  • 24 turtlebots
  • 14 UAVs
  • 6 duckiebot self driving cars
  • 5 Aibo robots and a number smaller robots including, Pleo, Joy For All Cat, and Timeo.

In addition researchers have access to about 2500 Square feet of robotics testing spaces in the CIT building, one human robot interaction lab in the Sciences Library, one large industrial machine shop and makerspace in the Engineering Department, and a smaller makerspace focussed on electronics in the Sciences Library. All three buildings are adjacent on campus and run the same wireless network dedicated to robots. This permits researchers to easily move robots from one location to another. In addition there is an electronics makerspace on the robot wireless network in the Granoff Center for the arts, to support using robots in artistic projects.