Henny Admoni

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Pioneering Robotics Researcher Focused on Developing Socially and Physically Assistive Machines That Improve Lives; Foremost Expert on Human-Centered Robotics and Human-Robot Collaboration; Director, Human and Robot Partners (HARP) Lab and A. Nico Habermann Assistant Professor, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Biography

Fear of robots is as old as robots themselves. Yet, contrary to our most dystopian expectations, the robots of today spend much less time dominating humanity and much more time improving our quality of life, reducing “busy work” and maximizing our efficiency.

Henny Admoni, the A. Nico Habermann Assistant Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and leader of its Human And Robot Partners (HARP) Lab, is an expert on human-robot interaction, including non-verbal communications, assistive machines and the future of work. In addition to teaching a new generation of roboticists to put humans at the center of the robot development process, she advises organizational leaders – particularly those in health care and manufacturing – on the best ways to match humans with artificial intelligence (AI), robots and machines.

“A lot of my work starts with understanding how humans behave,” says Admoni. “By striving to fully understand human behaviors through psychology, then developing algorithms that respond to those behaviors, we can design robots that better understand and truly assist people.”

Admoni’s research focuses on the space between AI (machine perception and decision making) and robotics (the embodiment of AI behaviors for use in the real world). In the lab she and her team design and develop human-aware machines that can help humans with various tasks in almost any setting – at work, home, school or in health care. Her work is critically important to any company looking to create efficiencies through automation without alienating their workforce.

Painting a picture of the future toward which we all should work, Admoni invites us to envision new robotics use cases, such as helping doctors through the next pandemic, serving as proxies during a toxic cleanup and improving agriculture to ensure less food waste. Dispelling negative myths around humans being replaced by robots, Admoni looks cheerfully toward the future while developing human-centered machines that are making work and home life safer and more efficient, especially for people who need assistance. In the process, she passionately encourages young students, especially those in underrepresented communities, to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

“Robotics is a really inspiring field to work in,” Admoni says. “By offloading rote and dangerous work to machines, we get to change people’s lives in meaningful ways and that’s really rewarding.”

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Henny Admoni is the A. Nico Habermann Assistant Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and leader of its Human And Robot Partners (HARP) Lab. Her research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, DARPA, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Foundation and Sony Corporation. Her work has been featured on NPR, Voice of America News and WESA radio.

Admoni completed her MS in Computer Science at Yale University, her BA/MA joint degree in Computer Science at Wesleyan University and her postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon’s Personal Robotics Lab.

Henny Admoni is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Admoni, Henny

Biography

Fear of robots is as old as robots themselves. Yet, contrary to our most dystopian expectations, the robots of today spend much less time dominating humanity and much more time improving our quality of life, reducing “busy work” and maximizing our efficiency.

Henny Admoni, the A. Nico Habermann Assistant Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and leader of its Human And Robot Partners (HARP) Lab, is an expert on human-robot interaction, including non-verbal communications, assistive machines and the future of work. In addition to teaching a new generation of roboticists to put humans at the center of the robot development process, she advises organizational leaders – particularly those in health care and manufacturing – on the best ways to match humans with artificial intelligence (AI), robots and machines.

“A lot of my work starts with understanding how humans behave,” says Admoni. “By striving to fully understand human behaviors through psychology, then developing algorithms that respond to those behaviors, we can design robots that better understand and truly assist people.”

Admoni’s research focuses on the space between AI (machine perception and decision making) and robotics (the embodiment of AI behaviors for use in the real world). In the lab she and her team design and develop human-aware machines that can help humans with various tasks in almost any setting – at work, home, school or in health care. Her work is critically important to any company looking to create efficiencies through automation without alienating their workforce.

Painting a picture of the future toward which we all should work, Admoni invites us to envision new robotics use cases, such as helping doctors through the next pandemic, serving as proxies during a toxic cleanup and improving agriculture to ensure less food waste. Dispelling negative myths around humans being replaced by robots, Admoni looks cheerfully toward the future while developing human-centered machines that are making work and home life safer and more efficient, especially for people who need assistance. In the process, she passionately encourages young students, especially those in underrepresented communities, to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

“Robotics is a really inspiring field to work in,” Admoni says. “By offloading rote and dangerous work to machines, we get to change people’s lives in meaningful ways and that’s really rewarding.”

###

Henny Admoni is the A. Nico Habermann Assistant Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and leader of its Human And Robot Partners (HARP) Lab. Her research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, DARPA, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Foundation and Sony Corporation. Her work has been featured on NPR, Voice of America News and WESA radio.

Admoni completed her MS in Computer Science at Yale University, her BA/MA joint degree in Computer Science at Wesleyan University and her postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon’s Personal Robotics Lab.

Henny Admoni is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Planning Forward: The Future of Work Is Brighter Than You Think

Since tomorrow’s workforce will look radically different from yesterday’s, companies are taking a hard look at how to match humans with machines in ways that secure jobs, drive efficiencies and create safer and happier workplaces. In this presentation, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Henny Admoni explains why a human-centered approach to designing robots is essential to enhancing human lives and shares her research on new assistive technologies that are poised to transform the future of work and society.

The Promise of Robotic Health Care

While machines drive efficiencies in most industries, health care in particular continues to be revolutionized by new technologies that have applications in a variety of areas, including elder care, internal medicine, mental health and mobility assistance. In this talk, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Henny Admoni discusses current and emerging innovations that are changing the face of health care. From helping people with motor impairments and other disabilities to helping doctors in the operating room, she shows how assistive robots and machines go beyond improving the quality of life for patients to enhancing how health care is delivered.

Fighting the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Gap in Technology

In 2018, 12.7% of the U.S. population was Black or African American, but only 4.2% of bachelor’s degrees, 4.8% of master’s degrees and 4.2% of PhD degrees were awarded to Black engineers. In this talk, Carnegie Mellon Professor Henny Admoni shares urgent steps organizations can take to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the technology sector. She explains why a lack of diversity is a problem and outlines ways to recruit, retain and mentor diverse talent, build community, remove systemic obstacles, enforce equitable policy and advocate for change.

Building Ethical AI in a Skeptical World

Robots and machines are increasingly being used for a variety of tasks, helping humans live easier, more fulfilling lives. While that is good news, there are still ethical concerns around how they are developed and used. In this presentation, Carnegie Mellon Professor Henny Admoni explains why it’s important to design robots with human-centered thinking and a sense of ethics to ensure they continue to help rather than harm us.

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