HRL's History of the FutureJun 12, 2019
E06 | Heiko Hoffmann - Don’t Fear the Robots!
Don’t Fear the Robots!
In this episode we spoke with Dr. Heiko Hoffmann, recent manager of the Autonomous Intelligence Department within the Information and Systems Sciences Laboratory of HRL Laboratories.
Born and educated in Germany, Heiko’s postdoctoral studies took him to the University of Edinburgh and University of Southern California before landing at HRL Laboratories in in 2010. Among many accomplishments, Heiko developed a method for robotic movement generation, a new version of Dynamic Movement Primitives, that has been cited over 2000 times and used around the world in various robots. He led many innovative and successful projects during his time at HRL and we were excited to ask him about the intricacies of working with machines that learn.
Heiko’s curiosity about the automated world and the way the human mind works led to many advanced programs under his leadership. Despite the common view of robots with machine intelligence as devices that could replace humans or become our technological overlords, Heiko assured us that robots are tools that help humans and are not to be feared.
E05 | Mike Daily and Dave Payton - Artificial intelligence! Autonomous vehicles! Augmented reality! And Robots!
Artificial intelligence! Autonomous vehicles! Augmented reality! And Robots!
Current HRL scientists Mike Daily and Dave Payton are pioneers in modern robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomy to name just a few of their areas of expertise.
They worked together on the very first successful autonomous vehicle for DARPA back in 1987 and have continued their research right up to today’s leading edge of robotics and autonomy. Mike and Dave have both published extensively and each has led many important research projects over their long careers. For decades they’ve been at the center of many major advances in virtual and augmented reality and vehicle autonomy and resilience. We were honored to welcome them to the podcast to share some of their myriad experiences.
E04 | Mary Young - Witnessing the dawn of the internet! Surviving the Cold War! Ushering in the 21st Century!
Witnessing the dawn of the internet! Surviving the Cold War! Ushering in the 21st Century!
In 2004, Mary Young retired after a distinguished research career that began in 1974 at Hughes Research Labs, then part of Hughes Aircraft Company, through the launch of HRL Laboratories, LLC, as we know it today and into to the 21stCentury.
Mary attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she earned her bachelor’s degree in physics. She then earned a master’s degree in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Mary and her husband moved to California in 1973 and Mary began working at Hughes Research Labs in late January 1974, conducting experiments needed to characterize specially doped silicon for infrared detector arrays.
Selected to receive a Hughes Doctoral Fellowship, in 1977 Mary began a PhD program in the Engineering Department at UCLA with Professor Oscar Stafsudd. After earning her PhD in 1980, Mary rose through the HRL ranks as a member of technical staff, then section head, project manager, and department head. In 1990 she became the first woman lab director at HRL Laboratories, as head of the Chemical Physics Laboratory, later renamed the Sensors and Materials Laboratory.
After retirement, Mary remained on advisory boards with the National Academy of Sciences and the United States Air Force, and on the Board of Visitors at her alma mater, Wake Forest. Mary and her husband travel extensively since their retirement, and they still live in the Malibu area. Mary was kind enough to make time to talk to us about her long and illustrious career at HRL.
E03 | Dan Sievenpiper - Flat Antennas! Controlling Electromagnetic Waves!
Flat Antennas! Controlling Electromagnetic Waves! Dan Sievenpiper Explains the Amazing Properties of Engineered Surfaces
Dan Sievenpiper earned his PhD in 1999 from UCLA, where he invented the high-impedance electromagnetic surface. Dan joined HRL Laboratories later that year, and during the next 11 years, Dan and his team developed new electromagnetic structures with an emphasis on small, conformal, tunable, and steerable antennas. Dan held a variety of technical and management positions at HRL including the Directorship of the Applied Electromagnetics Laboratory, the youngest HRL lab director ever.
In 2008, Dan received the URSI Issac Koga Gold Medal, and also the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Piergiorgio Uslenghi Letters Prize Paper Award. In 2009, he was named as a Fellow of the IEEE.
In 2010, he joined the faculty of UC San Diego, where his research has focused on artificial media, and the integration of active electronics with electromagnetic structures, and antennas to enable new capabilities and applications.
From 2010 to 2017, Dan served as an associate editor of the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters. He also served as the chair of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Administrative Committee on New Technology Directions from 2013-2014, and as the general chair of the 2017 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium and URSI Radio Science Meeting s held in San Diego. Dan currently has more than 70 issued patents and more than 120 publications.
E02 | John Neer - Capturing A Genius: The Feynman Lectures
Capturing A Genius: The Feynman Lectures
In 2008, John Neer retired from an industry career of over 50 years in commercial, military, national security, civil, and international aerospace programs, in which he specialized in satellite guidance, navigation, and control systems. Upon his retirement, the National Reconnaissance Office, which is the US intelligence agency in charge of reconnaissance satellites, awarded John the prestigious superior service medal for “…superior leadership and technical acumen in the development and operation of multiple NRO programs. Specifically, his engineering expertise advanced the state-of-the-art for satellite communication, imagery, and ground processing capabilities and operation.”
John started his professional career at Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles in 1966, where he participated in 5 years of lectures given by Nobel physics laureate Richard Feynman at the Hughes Research Labs (now HRL Laboratories) in Malibu, CA. John has now made his fascinating lecture notes available free to the public online at thehugheslectures.info and joins us to talk about the Feynman lectures and how they affected him.
E01 | Bill Leslie - Hughes Research Labs and Cold War Avant-Garde
Bill Leslie has taught the history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University since 1981. He has written on industrial research, Cold War science, corporate architecture, and most recently the architecture of science. Much of his recent work looks at science and technology in the developing world – Iran, India, and Pakistan – and at the aerospace industry in Southern California. He is currently writing a history of Johns Hopkins University.
Bill has also written an article for Laboratory Lifestyles (by MIT Press to be released in 2018) entitled The Beach Boys: Classified Research with a Southern California Vibe that focuses on laboratories in Southern California – including HRL Laboratories – that were designed to recruit, retain, and inspire scientists with bold architecture, scenic views, challenging problems, brilliant colleagues, and a lifestyle Bill intriguingly describes as “cold war avant-garde”. Bill was kind enough to make time for us today to talk about the history of HRL Laboratories.