Sophomore Seminars

Building Trust in Autonomy

AA 120Q

Major advances in both hardware and software have accelerated the development of autonomous systems that have the potential to bring significant benefits to society. Google, Tesla, and a host of other companies are building autonomous vehicles that can improve safety and provide flexible mobility options for those who cannot drive themselves. On the aviation side, the past few years have seen the proliferation of unmanned aircraft that have the potential to deliver medicine and monitor agricultural crops autonomously. In the financial domain, a significant portion of stock trades are performed using automated trading algorithms at a frequency not possible by human traders. How do we build these systems that drive our cars, fly our planes, and invest our money? How do we develop trust in these systems? What is the societal impact on increased levels of autonomy?

I will bring in real examples and models that I have personally worked on relevant to building trust in aircraft collision avoidance systems and driverless vehicles. Animations and interactive visualizations will help explain some of the more challenging topics.

You will be asked to code up your own collision avoidance system in a simple high-level language. We will then, together as a class, analyze its performance and visualize interactions between each other's systems. You will also build simple models of aircraft interactions from data.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Mykel Kochenderfer

Mykel Kochenderfer is an associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the director of the Stanford Intelligent Systems Laboratory (SISL). His research has led to a new system for preventing aircraft collisions, which became an international standard in 2018. He was an undergraduate at Stanford in computer science and did his Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. He is a third-generation private pilot.