Mobile Robotics

Mobile robots are poised to change how people move about the country, grow their food, and deliver goods and services. A particular area of excellence at Illinois is in the development of aerial robotics. Relevant core scientific problems include ones related to robust, stable, and predictable flight; tight integration of image processing with onboard autopilot; cooperation and coordination of heterogeneous aerial robots over ad hoc networks; and supervisory control of large systems of drones in adverse conditions
Some of the new and emerging directions include human-robot interaction in shared spaces under various constraints, development of social etiquette for aerial robots, unconventional new configurations for flight endurance, and the automation of building and infrastructure monitoring. These systems and others, such as autonomous vehicular control systems, also require the integration of security, intrusion detection, and reliability. To address these problems, CSL faculty and their colleagues bring together distinct expertise in avionics, control theory, sensor development, data processing, cyber security, and specific application domains.

Centers, Initiatives, and Institutes

CSL researchers in this area have a home in the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. Typically, they also have their own laboratories and access to a number of additional facilities.

The Intelligent Robotics Laboratory

John M. Hart, Manager and Coordinator of the CfA Robotics Labs

This collaborative research laboratory seeks to make breakthroughs in key aspects of mobile robotics. With an innovative lab that uses motion-capture technology, virtual reality, and the latest robotic platforms, faculty focus on tackling the decision and control challenges in aerial robotics. The laboratory is located indoors and is thus not limited by FAA regulations.


Numerous CSL faculty and senior researchers are looking at various aspects of decision-making and control, active perception, HCI, and security as they relate to mobile robotics, especially with respect to specific applications such as precision agriculture, construction site monitoring, assisted living, and first responder support. In pursuing this research, CSL faculty and senior researchers partner with subject matter experts from numerous units on campus as well as outside organizations.


Yuliy Baryshnikov (ECE): Control; nonlinear systems and control
Tamer Basar (ECE): Control
Carolyn Beck (ISE): Control systems, modeling and model reduction for the purpose of control, mathematical systems theory
Mohamed Ali Belabbas (ECE): Nonlinear systems and control
Soon-Jo Chung (AE): Nonlinear stability theory of nonlinear stochastic or deterministic systems
Geir E. Dullerud (MechSE): Control and dynamics; dynamic modeling
Alex Kirlik (CS): Human-computer interaction, human factors, and cognitive science & engineering
Cedric Langbort (AE): Control theory, in particular optimal, robust, distributed, and secure control
Steven M. LaValle (CS): Artificial intelligence, design of planning algorithms
Sayan Mitra (ECE): Formal verification, distributed computing, and cyber-physical systems
Sibin Mohan (CS): Embedded and cyber-physical systems, and security for such systems.
Romit Roy Choudhury (ECE): Localization and navigation, mobile sensing
Dusan M. Stipanovic (ISE): Distributed control of robotics swarms, collision avoidance
Petros G. Voulgaris (AE): Robust and multi-objective control and estimation

Partners – faculty and senior researchers

CSL faculty work with numerous partners in this sector. It is a great strength of CSL that when you approach CSL, you open connections to a vast network of experts both within CSL and beyond. Below are individuals to be found on the Urbana campus and elsewhere. The list is not meant to be exhaustive; new connections are continually being made.

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

College of Engineering

Mani Golparvar-Fard (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Derek W. Hoiem (CS)
Prashant Mehta (MechSE)

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Ranxiao Frances Wang (Psychology)

Sinclair College

Parkland College