I am an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the Tandon School of Engineering of New York University where I head the Machines in Motion laboratory.
I studied at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne where I received an engineering diploma in Computer Science in 2004 and a Doctorate in Science in 2008 under the supervision of Professor Auke Ijspeert. Between March 2009 and August 2012, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California with Professor Stefan Schaal. In September 2012 I started the Movement Generation and Control Group at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany where I became a W2 Independent Research Group Leader in September 2015 thanks to an ERC Starting Grant. I moved to New York University in September 2017.
My research focuses on the planning, learning and control of movements for autonomous robots, with a special emphasis on legged locomotion and manipulation. I am more generally interested in problems at the intersection between decision making, automatic control, optimization, applied dynamical systems and machine learning. My research received several awards, most notably the 2010 Georges Giralt PhD Award given by the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) for the best robotics thesis in Europe, the 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) Best Paper Award, the 2016 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award and the 2016 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize from the German Research Foundation. More details can be found on the Machines in Motion laboratory website.
I teach undergraduate and graduate classes at NYU every semester. Checkout the lab's education page for more information and for links to teaching material we create. I regularly volunteer to teach robotics and AI to K12 students and my lab takes part of K12 activities organized by NYU's Center for K12 STEM Education, especially their wonderful ARISE program.
I also care about the societal implications of my work and more broadly I am interested in use of technology that can empower people, improve quality of life and help create more just, open and equal societies. I strongly oppose the development of autonomous weapon systems and more generally the use of technology to surveil, control or kill people. I believe that conducting socially responsible research starts with our funding sources. Hence I do not pursue funding nor collaborate with organizations whose primary goal is the development of technology for military or policing applications. I believe that these applications are fundamentally incompatible with democratic, just, open and equal societies.