A photo of Alli Nilles

I completed my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2020 with Dr. Steven M. LaValle. I am now a Postdoc in Dr. Kirstin Petersen’s Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Cornell University. I have a B.S. in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines.

Research Interests: My thesis was on algorithms and data structures for minimal-yet-robust motion and feedback planning for mobile robots. Specifically, I worked with a broad class of robots that have structured interactions with their environment, such as Roombas that bump into walls and furniture or micro-robots that swim blindly until they reach a barrier or another robot.

My approach involves making coarse characterizations of the geometry and dynamics of robot trajectories. By establishing equivalence classes over the environment and control spaces, we can allow for nondeterminism and uncertainty at the planning stage and still compute plans that have analytical guarantees on their stability and long-term dynamical behavior.

Instead of assuming that we have perfect control and observation of a robot, we use the intrinsic dynamics of the robot to engineer robust high-level behaviors such as navigating or patrolling a space, or even object manipulation or self-assembly.

My CV is here. You can see some of my current projects at my github and on my project overview page.