Biography / CV


Aaron Becker's passion is robotics and control. Currently as an Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston, he is building a robotics lab.

Previously as a Research Fellow in a joint appointment with Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, he is implemented robotics powered and controlled by the magnetic field of an MRI, as a member of the Pediatric Cardiac Bioengineering Lab with Pierre Dupont.

Previously as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Rice University in the Multi-Robot Systems Lab with James McLurkin, Aaron investigated control of distributed systems and nanorobotics with experts in the fields. His online game swarmcontrol.net seeks to understand the best ways to control a swarm of robots by a human. The project achieves this through a community of game-developed experts.

Aaron earned his PhD in the Electrical & Computer Engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Robotics and neuro-Mechanical Systems Laboratory, advised by Tim Bretl. Aaron wanted a robot ever since the day in first grade he wrote a badly spelled letter to Santa Claus requesting one. Today, that dream is lived out daily. His focus is on techniques for handling uncertainty in robotics. Applications include manipulating robotic swarms, directing self-assembled microbots, robotic coverage, and state-estimation for novel prosthesis.

Aaron and his wife Laney moved to Houston in 2014 after earning his master’s degree in 2008 and PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering August 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Publications

Journal Publications

  • O. Felfoul, A. Becker, C. Bergeles, and P. E. Dupont, "Achieving Commutation Control of an MRI-powered Robot Actuator," under review.
  • A. Becker, C. Onyuksel, T. Bretl, and J. McLurkin, "Control of Many Differential-Drive Robots with Uniform Control Inputs,"International Journal of Robotics Research , vol. 33, November 2014 pp 1626-1644. [pdf]
  • A. Becker, E. Demaine, S. Fekete, G. Habibi, and J. McLurkin, "Reconfiguring Massive Particle Swarms with Limited, Global Control," Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2014 pp 51-66 [pdf] [video] [code]
  • A. Becker and T. Bretl, "Approximate Steering of a Unicycle Under Bounded Model Perturbation Using Ensemble Control," IEEE_J_RO, vol. 28, iss. 3, pp. 580-591, 2012.
    [pdf] [video] [code]
  • D. Y. Li, A. Becker, A. Shorter, T. Bretl, and E. T. Hsiao-Wecksler, "Estimating System State During Human Walking With a Powered Ankle-Foot Orthosis," IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 16, iss. 5, pp. 835-844, 2011.
    [pdf] [video]

Dissertation and Thesis

  • A. Becker, "Ensemble Control of Robotic Systems," PhD Thesis , 2012.
    [pdf] [video]
  • A. Becker, "Mobile Robot Motion-Planning Using Wireless Signals for Localization," Master's Dissertation , 2008.
    [pdf] [video]

Peer-Reviewed Conference Publications

  • H. Mohtasham, R. Morris-Wright , E. Demaine, S. Fekete, and A. Becker, "Particle Computation: Device Fan-out and Binary Memory," in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seattle, WA, USA, 2015. (under review) [video]
  • A. Becker, O. Felfoul, and P. Dupont, "Simultaneously Powering and Controlling Many Actuators With a Clinical MRI Scanner," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Chicago, IL, USA, 2014. [pdf] [video] [code] Best Paper Award, (top paper, 47% acceptance rate, 755/1683)
  • J. McLurkin, A. McMullen, N. Robbins, A. Chou, W. Li, M. John, C. Licato, N. Okeke, J. Rykowski, S. Kim, G. Habibi, W. Xi, Y. Zhou, J. Shen, N. Chen, Q. Kaseman, A. Becker, L. Langford, J. Hunt, A. Boone, K. Koch, "A robot system design for low-cost multi-robot manipulation," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Chicago, IL, USA, 2014. (47% acceptance rate, 755/1683) [pdf] [video]
  • A. Becker, E. Demaine, S. Fekete, and J. McLurkin, "Particle Computation: Designing Worlds to Control Robot Swarms with only Global Signals," in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong, China, 2014. [pdf] [video] [code] (48% acceptance rate, 1000/2085)
  • A. Becker, C. Ertel, and J. McLurkin, "Online Massive Manipulation: A user study on controlling large swarms of simple robots," in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong, China, 2014. [pdf] [video] [code] [website: http://swarmcontrol.net] (48% acceptance rate, 1000/2085)
  • S. Lee, A. Becker, S. Fekete, A. Kröller, J. McLurkin, "Exploration via Structured Triangulation by a Multi-Robot System with Bearing-Only Low-Resolution Sensors," in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong, China, 2014. [pdf] [video] (48% acceptance rate, 1000/2085)
  • P. Kim, A. Becker, Y. Ou, A. Julius, and M. Kim. "Swarm control of cell-based microrobots using a single global magnetic field," in The 10th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI), Jeju, Korea, 2013. Best Application Paper Award. [pdf]
  • A. Becker, E. Demaine, S. Fekete, G. Habibi, and J. McLurkin, "Reconfiguring Massive Particle Swarms with Limited, Global Control," in International Symposium on Algorithms and Experiments for Sensor Systems, Wireless Networks and Distributed Robotics (ALGOSENSORS), Sophia Antipolis, France, 2013. [pdf] [video] [code]
  • Aaron Becker and Golnaz Habibi and Justin Werfel and Michael Rubenstein and James McLurkin, "Massive Uniform Manipulation: Controlling Large Populations of Simple Robots with a Common Input Signal," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Tokyo, Japan, 2013.
    [pdf] [video] [code]
  • Aaron Becker and Yan Ou and Paul Kim and MinJun Kim and Agung Julius, "Feedback Control of Many Magnetized Tetrahymena pyriformis Cells by Exploiting Phase Inhomogeneity," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2013. Finalist, Best Paper Award
    [pdf] [video] [code]
  • Aaron Becker and James McLurkin, "Exact Range and Bearing Control of Many Differential-Drive Robots with Uniform Control Inputs," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2013.
    [pdf] [video] [code]
  • A. Becker, S. Fekete, A. Kröller, L. Seoung Kyou, J. McLurkin, C. Schmidt. "Triangulating Unknown Environments using Robot Swarms," (Video) in Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013. [pdf] [video]
  • A. Becker and T. Bretl, "Approximate Steering of a Plate-Ball System Under Bounded Model Perturbation Using Ensemble Control," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012.
    [pdf] [video]
  • C. Orduño, A. Becker, and T. Bretl, "Motion Primitives for Path Following with a Self-Assembled Robotic Swimmer," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012.
    [pdf] [video]
  • A. Becker, C. Onyuksel, and T. Bretl, "Feedback Control of Many Differential-Drive Robots with Uniform Control Inputs," in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012.
    [pdf] [video] [code]
  • C. Das, A. Becker, and T. Bretl, "Probably Approximately Correct Coverage for Robots with Uncertainty," in Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2011. IROS 2011. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, 2011, pp. 12-13.
    [pdf] [video]
  • I. R. D. Pablo, A. Becker, and T. Bretl, "An optimal solution to the linear search problem for a robot with dynamics," in Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, 2010, pp. 652-657.
    [pdf] [doi] [video]
  • A. Becker and T. Bretl, "Motion planning under bounded uncertainty using ensemble control," in Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), 2010.
    [pdf] [video]
  • A. Becker, R. Sandheinrich, and T. Bretl, "Automated manipulation of spherical objects in three dimensions using a gimbaled air jet," in Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2009. IROS 2009. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, 2009, pp. 781-786.
    [pdf] [doi] [video]
  • T. T. Dang, T. D. Vu, and A. Becker, "A lossless coding scheme for images using cross-point regions for modeling," in Electro/Information Technology, 2007 IEEE International Conference on, 2007, pp. 96-101.
    [pdf] [doi]

Peer-Reviewed Educational Software

  • A. Becker, "Ensemble Control of Robots with Unicycle Kinematics'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Optimizing a Gauss Gun'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Weber Points and Multifocal Ellipse'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "The Marching Chinese'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Coverage Probability with the Occupancy Problem'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Parametric Equation of a Circle in 3D'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2014 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Gridiron Pendulum'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012 [code]
  • A. Becker, "Roll Any Point on the Sphere to Any Desired Latitude-Longitude Coordinates with One Straight-Line Roll'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012. [code]
  • A. Becker, "Roll a Sphere without Changing Orientation to a New Location in Two Straight Rolls'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012. [code]
  • R. Morris-Wright and A. Becker, "Kinematics of Planar Elastic Chains'', Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012. [code]
  • A. Becker, "Rolling a Sphere around a Circle without Slipping", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Re-Orient a Sphere with Two Straight Rolls", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Morph Sphere to Disc", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Tangent Plane to a Sphere", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Curvature of the Projection of a Trefoil Knot", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Dark Fraction of the Moon", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Sampling a Uniformly Random Rotation", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2012.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Coverage of a Unit Square by Random Discs", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2011.
    [code]
  • A. Becker, "Fraction of a Circle Covered by Arcs of a Given Length", Wolfram Demonstrations Project, 2011.
    [code]

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