Thrun, Sebastian


A Personal Account of the Development of Stanley, the Robot That Won the DARPA Grand Challenge

AI Magazine

This article is my personal account on the work at Stanford on Stanley, the winning robot in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Between July 2004 and October 2005, my then-postdoc Michael Montemerlo and I led a team of students, engineers, and professionals with the single vision of claiming one of the most prestigious trophies in the field of robotics: the DARPA Grand Challenge (DARPA 2004). The Grand Challenge, organized by the U.S. government, was unprecedented in the nation's history. Instead, this is my personal story of leading the Stanford Racing Team.


A Personal Account of the Development of Stanley, the Robot That Won the DARPA Grand Challenge

AI Magazine

This article is my personal account on the work at Stanford on Stanley, the winning robot in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Between July 2004 and October 2005, my then-postdoc Michael Montemerlo and I led a team of students, engineers, and professionals with the single vision of claiming one of the most prestigious trophies in the field of robotics: the DARPA Grand Challenge (DARPA 2004). The Grand Challenge, organized by the U.S. government, was unprecedented in the nation's history. It was the first time that the U.S. Congress had appropriated a cash price for advancing technological innovation. My team won this prize, competing with some 194 other teams. Stanley was the fastest of five robotic vehicles that, on October 8, 2005, successfully navigated a 131.6-mile-long course through California's Mojave Desert. This essay is not about the technology behind our success; for that I refer the interested reader to recent articles on the technical aspects of Stanley. Instead, this is my personal story of leading the Stanford Racing Team. It is the story of a team of people who built an autonomous robot in record time. It is also a success story for the field of artificial intelligence, as Stanley used some state of the art AI methods in areas such as probabilistic inference, machine learning, and computer vision. Of course, it is also the story of a step towards a technology that, one day, might fundamentally change our lives.


Probabilistic Algorithms in Robotics

AI Magazine

This article describes a methodology for programming robots known as probabilistic robotics. The probabilistic paradigm pays tribute to the inherent uncertainty in robot perception, relying on explicit representations of uncertainty when determining what to do. This article surveys some of the progress in the field, using in-depth examples to illustrate some of the nuts and bolts of the basic approach. My central conjecture is that the probabilistic approach to robotics scales better to complex real-world applications than approaches that ignore a robot's uncertainty.


Probabilistic Algorithms in Robotics

AI Magazine

This article describes a methodology for programming robots known as probabilistic robotics. The probabilistic paradigm pays tribute to the inherent uncertainty in robot perception, relying on explicit representations of uncertainty when determining what to do. This article surveys some of the progress in the field, using in-depth examples to illustrate some of the nuts and bolts of the basic approach. My central conjecture is that the probabilistic approach to robotics scales better to complex real-world applications than approaches that ignore a robot's uncertainty.



A Review of Reinforcement Learning

AI Magazine

Review of "Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction, Richard S. Sutton and Andrew G. Barto, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998, 322 pp., ISBN 0-262-19398-1.


Automated Learning and Discovery State-of-the-Art and Research Topics in a Rapidly Growing Field

AI Magazine

This article summarizes the Conference on Automated Learning and Discovery (CONALD), which took place in June 1998 at Carnegie Mellon University. CONALD brought together an interdisciplinary group of scientists concerned with decision making based on data. One of the meeting's focal points was the identification of promising research topics, which are discussed toward the end of this article.


Automated Learning and Discovery State-of-the-Art and Research Topics in a Rapidly Growing Field

AI Magazine

This article summarizes the Conference on Automated Learning and Discovery (CONALD), which took place in June 1998 at Carnegie Mellon University. CONALD brought together an interdisciplinary group of scientists concerned with decision making based on data. One of the meeting's focal points was the identification of promising research topics, which are discussed toward the end of this article.


To Know or Not to Know: On the Utility of Models in Mobile Robotics

AI Magazine

This article describes JEEVES, one of the winning entries in the 1996 Annual AAAI Mobile Robot Competition and Exhibition, held as part of the Thirteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The model, a geometric map constructed from sensory data gathered while the robot performed its task, enabled JEEVES to sweep the arena efficiently. This article argues that JEEVES's success depended crucially on the existence of the model. It also argues that models are generally useful in mobile robotics -- even in tasks as simple as the one faced in this competition.


To Know or Not to Know: On the Utility of Models in Mobile Robotics

AI Magazine

This article describes JEEVES, one of the winning entries in the 1996 Annual AAAI Mobile Robot Competition and Exhibition, held as part of the Thirteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence. JEEVES tied for first place in the finals of the competition after it won both preliminary trials. A key aspect in JEEVES's software design was the ability to acquire a model of the environment. The model, a geometric map constructed from sensory data gathered while the robot performed its task, enabled JEEVES to sweep the arena efficiently. It facilitated the retrieval of balls and their delivery at the gate, and it helped to avoid unintended collisions with obstacles. This article argues that JEEVES's success depended crucially on the existence of the model. It also argues that models are generally useful in mobile robotics -- even in tasks as simple as the one faced in this competition.