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Robots programmed to follow you

About twenty master’s students completed a human-robot tandem race in June 2019 as part of the Data and AI for Transportation class given by Alexandre Alahi, an assistant professor at EPFL’s Visual Intelligence for Transportation (VITA) laboratory. “We had to program our robot to recognize a visual signal captured by an embedded camera and then follow the signal. That required developing our own algorithm and programming it in the robot,” says Rayan Abi Fadel, a student in the College of Management of Technology. All of the competing teams had to use the same robot – a Segway Loomo – and the same base algorithm developed by two VITA PhD students, Yuejiang Liu and George Adaimi. But they could adapt the algorithm and reconfigure it using deep learning and AI methods. Most of the students who competed in the race already knew how to program, but not all. Those who had to learn along the way included Linah Charif and Sergej Gasparovich, the two civil engineering students who came in first.