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.

News & Travel

Mar '20
Papers accepted at ICRA, ACC, and L4DC.
Feb '20
I am giving a seminar at ITA 2020 in San Diego, CA.
Dec '19
I am giving a seminar at JPL, Pasadena, CA.
Nov '19
Our research on wildfire detection was featured in the Jacobs School News.
Jun '19
ICML 2019 in Long Beach, CA.
Apr '19
Michael Ostertag won the Best Poster award at Research Expo 2019 for our work on minimizing uncertainty in persistent monitoring.
Apr '19
I am giving a seminar at the Decision and Control Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Mar '19
I am giving a seminar at the Maryland Robotics Center, University of Maryland.
Jan '19
I am presenting at the Workshop on Intelligent Systems with Real-Time Learning, Knowledge Bases, and Information Retrieval organized by ARL at UT Austin.
Oct '18
I received the ECE Best Graduate Teacher Award for 2017-2018.
Jun '17
We won the best conference paper award at ICRA17!