Nikolay A. Atanasov

Assistant Professor

office Atkinson Hall 6127
lab Atkinson Hall 6400


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of California, San Diego. I direct the Existential Robotics Laboratory (ERL) and am affiliated with the Contextual Robotics Institute (CRI) at UCSD.

Before joining UCSD, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania, working with Vijay Kumar. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on Active Information Acquisition with Mobile Robots at the department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania in July, 2015. My advisors were George J. Pappas and Kostas Daniilidis. I received an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, in 2012 and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 2008.

Research Interests

My research goal is to develop scientific principles to increase the reliability, efficiency, and versatility of autonomous robot systems. My work focuses on autonomous information collection using ground and aerial robots for localization and mapping, environmental monitoring, and security and surveillance. My theoretical contributions relate to probabilistic environment models that unify geometry and semantics and optimal control and reinforcement learning algorithms for minimizing uncertainty in these models.

The fields relevant to my research are robotics, machine learning, control theory, optimization, and computer vision.


Apr '22
Our work on metric-semantic mapping for robot teams using distributed Gaussian Process regression has been accepted for publication at the IEEE Transactions on Robotics!
Apr '22
Our work on distributed Bayesian estimation of continuous variables in time-varying directed networks has been accepted for publication at the IEEE Control Systems Letters (L-CSS)!
Apr '22
I am giving a seminar on autonomous robot mapping, navigation, and exploration at the ECE department in University of California Los Angeles on April 11th, 2022.
Mar '22
Our work on safe autonomous navigation for systems with learned dynamics models has been accepted for presentation at L4DC 2022.
Feb '22
Our papers on multi-robot SLAM and active SLAM have been accepted for presentation at ACC 2022!
Dec '21
Our work on safe control of systems with learned dynamics models was accepted for publication by the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control!
Jul '21
NSF announced the establishment of 11 new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes in 2021. One of the institutes on AI and Optimization, TILOS, is led by UCSD!
Jun '21
Papers accepted at RSS'21, IROS'21, and ICCV'21.
Jun '21
I am co-organizing a workshop on Safe Robot Control with Learned Motion and Environment Models at the 2021 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA).
May '21
I am co-organizing an invited session on Safe and Risk-aware Planning and Control for Learning-enabled Systems at the 2021 American Control Conference (ACC).