Cognitive Robotics Summer School – Boston June 12-16, 2017

1st Summer School on Cognitive Robotics, June 12-16 2017 MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

Important Dates

May 17, 2017Deadline for early application and grant requests
May 22, 2017Notification of admission and grant allocations
May 30, 2017 Registration deadline

General Information

The goal of this unique summer school is to help catalyze the next generation of planning researchers in AI and robotics, to work together to develop robots that are capable at both the task and motion levels. Our school will help students become equally conversant in the methods of cognitive systems and robotics, and will help them to build bridges between robotics and AI methods. The intended audience for this summer school includes top graduate students, postdocs and junior researchers, from both the cognitive AI and Robotics disciplines.

The summer school will center around a common robotic execution architecture that unifies the many methods presented, together with daily robotics labs and a grand challenge for the week. Advanced tutorials will be offered on those major elements of planning and perception that are required to develop capable autonomous systems, and will center around the daily themes of robust execution, motion planning, activity planning, perception and manipulation, and planning under uncertainty and risk. Tutorials alone, however are not enough to have lasting impact. Hence we complement them by a novel robotic architecture and suite of labs.

A feature of our summer school is that we offer students a comprehensive autonomy architecture, to use and take home. This architecture includes a decision layer architecture, which the cognitive AI community uses to combine decision-making components into a planning and execution system, coupled to a mobility layer architecture,  which the robotics community uses to combine its manipulation and perception components. The architecture that we provide in this summer school uses Enterprise for the decision layer, and the Robotics Operating System – ROS for the mobility layer. The idea behind offering a decision layer architecture is to tie the cognitive systems community together, much in the way ROS and similar architectures have done for robotics, and to bring these two communities together, through the hybrid Enterprise/ROS architecture.

Leveraging this architecture, the summer school includes daily labs, centered around the daily themes and tutorials, and a grand challenge that helps the students apply the combined methods that they learn during the summer school. Students and researchers will then be able to take the hybrid architecture and a corresponding integrated tool set home, as a catalyst for future research, studies and collaboration.


The school tutorials include renowned experts in the field. In particular, tutorials will be given by:

  • Andrew Coles, King’s College London
  • Joerg Hoffmann, Saarland University
  • Luke Hunsberger, Vassar College
  • Phil Kilby, CSIRO Data61 / Australian National University
  • Sven Koenig, University of Southern California
  • Scott Kuindersma, Harvard
  • Mark Moll and Lydia Kavraki, Rice University
  • Alberto Rodriguez, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Nicholas Roy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Reid Simmons, Carnegie Mellon University
  • David Wang, NuVu
  • Brian Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Shlomo Zilberstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The tutorials will cover technical topics in cognitive robotics as well as the experience of the speakers about tackling real robotics problems. Daily labs will include hands-on experience with the techniques introduced in the tutorials, the decision layer architecture and a few robot platforms.


The summer school will take place at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. MIT is traditionally known for its advanced research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, biology, economics, linguistics, and management.


To apply, candidate attendees will fill out an online form and upload a CV and an intention letter describing how the applicant’s research is connected to the topics of cognitive robotics. Any motivated candidate is encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to graduate students, postdocs or junior scientists.

The school has a fee of USD 370. The fee covers all course materials and supervised labs, coffee breaks, accommodation for 6 nights from June 11 (check-in) to June 17 (check-out), and the social program (including group activity and a dinner). The registration will be restricted to roughly 50 participants.

Please visit the summer school website for detailed instructions on how to apply.


The summer school is organized by Brian Williams (MIT, USA), Tiago Vaquero (MIT, USA), and the MERS group at MIT.

If you have any questions, please refer to the summer school website or email