Trevor Darrell Tapped to Co-Lead PATH

September 14, 2017

Trevor Darrell has been appointed as the new faculty director for Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH). The computer science professor will begin his appointment at the end of spring.

“I’m looking forward to joining PATH, and I am excited to focus computer vision research in the transportation field,” says Darrell. “This is a great opportunity to co-lead a top research center and take fundamental research and add a new perspective.”

Looking at the impact of robotics and computer vision in transportation, Darrell will be leading a new PATH initiative and connecting colleagues in the computer science, robotics and computer vision fields to transportation, especially in autonomous vehicle, advanced driver, and traffic management research.

“In the 1990s, PATH revolutionized transportation by pioneering automated driving,” says ITS Berkeley Director Alexandre Bayen. “With the arrival of Trevor, I am very eager to see vision and robotics push PATH again to the forefront of intelligent transportation systems, and I look forward to new breakthroughs in the fields of robotics and automation in transportation."

Specifically, Darrell will be focusing on developing algorithms to enable multimodal conversations with robots and mobile devices, and methods for object and activity recognition on several platforms. This includes camera recognition, red light enforcement, travel time management, lane recognition, bus lane enforcement, street sign recognition, and autonomous navigation.

“It’s an exciting field to be in; there are tremendous opportunities to improve the quality of lives, infrastructure and economy,” says Darrell.

Darrell also comes with significant interaction with the automotive industry, having been funded for many years on automotive related research projects by Toyota Motor Corporation while on the faculty of UC Berkeley and by Ford Motor Corporation while on the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With his appointment to PATH, Darrell said the ability to work with PATH’s resources and experiment at scale is a welcome opportunity, as well as working in the field with PATH partners.

“We welcome Trevor with great enthusiasm and look forward to a new era at PATH that takes full advantage of the resources that our great UC institution provides. Trevor’s scientific strength and his ability to develop and maintain solid industry relations will be a fantastic compliment to the exceptional people and programs that exist at PATH,” says Thomas West, Co-Director of PATH.

Darrell is quick to note, though, that computer vision technology research isn’t new at PATH and ITS Berkeley, but he will build on this legacy and leverage recent advances at UC Berkeley in perceptual optimization and real-time control, including those which map visual inputs directly to control outputs and which support intelligent perception, manipulation and control tasks. Such tasks include robotic material handling and transport for logistics applications, infrastructure assessment and mitigation post-disaster based on large-scale autonomous visual perception networks, and high-performance autonomous flight along and through complex structures using real-time perceptual controllers.

Darrell also helps run the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center, which recently introduced new software framework for open-source deep learning called CAFFE, that has rapidly become an industry standard in a number of industries with application in logistics and autonomous navigation. He is on the faculty of the CS Division at UC Berkeley, in addition to mentoring students. In addition to computer vision, he research interests focus on machine learning, computer graphics and perception-based human computer interfaces.

Darrell earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1988 and his Master of Science and doctoral degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and 1996, respectively, Prior to his appointment in the Computer Science Division at UC Berkeley in 2008, he was a faculty member of the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department from 1999-2008 and was a member of the research staff at Interval Research Corporation from 1996-1999.

Darrell replaces Roberto Horrowitz as Faculty Director, who will be stepping down from the position at the end of the spring semester following the completion of his term as Co-Director of PATH.