Robotics History: Narratives and Networks Oral Histories: Jing Xiao

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Jing Xiao was born in Beijing, China and received her undergraduate degree at Beijing Normal University. As an undergraduate, Xiao studied physics, electrical engineering, and then migrated to computer engineering and computer science. From there, Xiao went on to University of Michigan for her Master’s and Doctorate degree in Computer Information and Control Engineering. For her Doctorate Thesis, Xiao focused on the problem of pegging and holes, where the challenge was to have a simple robot that can perform only one task, and reason through when encountering errors. After finishing her work at Michigan, Xiao did work on optimizing assembly sequencing, and problem of planning robot motion interaction. In 1998, Dr. Xiao became the program director of the robotics and human augmentation program at the National Science Foundation where she was exposed to the whole landscape of the robotics research. This was where she saw the robotics had the potential to be pervasive as personal computers in our society. After leaving the National Science Foundation and coming back to UNC. Xiao did work on moving the robot around in a dynamic environment, focusing especially on robots with high degree of freedom, and building algorithms that can be developed in real time.

In this interview, Dr. Xiao talks about her education, how she became interested in robotics, her developing research interests, her collaboration with colleagues and students, and the questions and challenges in moving the robotics field forward. She also touches on issues of diversity in the robotics field, robotics in China, and gives advice to students who may be interested in pursuing robotics.

  • Published on
  • May 4, 2020

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