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  • Prof. Gal Kaminka, Department of Computer Science and Gonda Brain Center

    Prof. Gal Kaminka Wins Landau Prize

    Date: 2013-12-15 Hour: 12:56

    Prof. Gal Kaminka, of the Department of Computer Science and Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, is the winner of the prestigious Mifal HaPayis Landau Prize for Arts and Sciences in the robotics category for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of science. 

    Landau awards are granted annually to five Israeli scientists who've achieved a recent breakthrough in their field of research, have gained international recognition, and contributed significantly to the advancement of science in Israel and abroad. One award is given in each of five areas of research: natural sciences, exact sciences, social sciences, humanities and life sciences.  The Prize will be awarded at a festive ceremony on January 1, 2014. 

    Prof. Kaminka is the leading Israeli researcher in the field of intelligent robotics in general, and in robotic teamwork in particular.  His work combines elements from the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science, and social and cognitive psychology.  He has trained a generation of young researchers who've gone on to join the faculties of various Israeli universities and colleges, civil and defense industries, and the start-up company "Cogniteam".

    Prof. Kaminka is an international pioneer in the study of generic teamwork in robots.  As part of this research, he has developed mechanisms that encode teamwork models in multi-robot groups, specifically in decision-making and information sharing. That is, each robot using his system becomes a team member without having to encode desirable team behavior -- regardless of the task.   Prof. Kaminka is currently writing a book, commissioned by Cambridge University Press, that will focus on robotic teamwork.

    In addition to his research in the field of generic teamwork, Prof. Kaminka, along with his students, has led a series of innovative studies focusing on different missions for teams of robots. One such study is in robotic team patrol, where a team of robots is required to repeatedly visit a target area in order to monitor it. Prof. Kaminka's research has overcome this problem in two ways: through patrolling that maximizes the frequency of visit of the team members at any point in the area, and through patrolling that assumes an adversary trying to pass by undetected, a challenge which combines elements of game theory. This research – commercialized for the defense ministry and defense industries -- was the first to distinguish these approaches and solve them effectively.

    Prof. Kaminka is one of few researchers in the world who studies human-robot interface in groups, research which focuses on the operation of teams of robots by a single operator.  For this project he and his students have been developing new algorithms which allow robots to operate autonomously, and share information selectively with the human operator, alongside innovative user interfaces for robotic systems.

    Prof. Kaminka also conducts research in the field of diagnostics and detection of faults in robotic systems – both in teams and on the individual level (such as sensory faults). This is a particularly challenging problem for robots, because the sensory information itself constitutes the robots' knowledge of the system. Despite this, the work of Prof. Kaminka and his students presents effective solutions for unmanned drones and vehicles, different flight simulators, and spacecraft propulsion systems.

    Prof. Kaminka is the co-founder (together with Dr. Eli Kolberg, of the Faculty of Engineering) of the first Israeli team participating in the RoboCup games, the premier league for soccer-playing robots, and has led Israel to the ranks of the world's top 16 teams.  In addition, his contributions extend beyond robotics to the scientific study of intelligent agents and multi-agent systems, composed of intelligent software entities that coordinate and collaborate with each other.  He has conducted research into simulations of virtual entities, moving and behaving as complex individuals, collaborative teams, and crowds.

    Prof. Kaminka is active in the international artificial intelligence and robotics community.  He has held positions on the executive committees of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the RoboCup Federation, and the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents & Multi-Agent Systems (IFAAMAS).  To date he has published over 150 scientific articles, holds six patents, and has served as academic advisor to 23 master's and ten doctoral students.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and was a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.  He is also a Radcliffe Fellow, of Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.