Princeton University

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Specification-Driven Design for Modular and Safe Robotics

Petter Nilsson, California Institute of Technology
B205 Engineering Quadrangle
Monday, February 18, 2019 - 4:30pm


Robotic systems of tomorrow will be increasingly interconnected and operate amongst us, which implies a two-fold engineering challenge of great complexity and no tolerance for mistakes. This talk will explore specification-driven design methods that enforce or utilize formally written specifications for principled design, modularity, and decision-making.

The first part will be centered on safety-critical control via invariance: I will show how invariance specifications in the form of assume-guarantee contracts can be leveraged to decompose problems and thus enable modular design, and how certificates for invariance can be used to formally relate low-level dynamics to a high-level abstract roadmap for planning. The second part of the talk will cover specification-guided methods for multi-robot systems, and how problem structure can be leveraged to overcome scalability challenges. The talk will be concluded with a few words about current research topics and directions for the future.


Petter Nilsson received his B.S. in Engineering Physics in 2011, and his M.S. in Optimization and Systems Theory in 2013, both from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2017 from the University of Michigan. In addition to his technical degrees, he holds a B.S. in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology where he conducts research on specification-driven control and autonomy for safety-critical cyber-physical systems, with applications in autonomous driving, space exploration, and multi-agent coordination.