Nikolay A. Atanasov

Assistant Professor
ERL · ECE · CRI · UC San Diego

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) which is part of the Contextual Robotics Institute (CRI) at UCSD.

Before joining UCSD, I was a postdoctoral researcher 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 of robot autonomy aimed at increasing the reliability, efficiency, and versatility of robotic sensing systems. In particular, I focus on autonomous information collection using ground and aerial robots for localization and mapping, environmental monitoring, and security and surveillance. I work on probabilistic environment models that unify geometry and semantics and on optimal control and reinforcement learning approaches for minimizing uncertainty in these models.

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


Winter '18
ECE 276B: Planning & Learning in Robotics
Fall '17
ECE 276A: Sensing & Estimation in Robotics
Spring '17
ESE 650: Learning in Robotics (@UPenn)

News & Travel

Jul '18
I am presenting a paper on semantic SLAM at IJCAI18 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Jun '18
I am presenting at the RSS18 Workshop on Adversarial Robotics in Pittsburgh, PA.
May '18
ICRA18 in Brisbane, Australia. Check out our papers (TuA@G.3, WeA@S.4) and join us at the workshop on Joint Semantic, Geometric, and Physical Understanding!
Feb '18
I am presenting at the Artificial Intelligence panel at the West Conference sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute.
Jan '18
Papers accepted at JFR, TAC, RAL, ACC, ICLR.
Aug '17
I attended the Machine Learning and Formal Methods Seminar at Dagstuhl.
Jul '17
I am co-organizing a workshop on Learning Perception and Control for Autonomous Flight at RSS17.
Jul '17
First day at UCSD!
Jun '17
We won the best conference paper award at ICRA17!