NeurIPS 2021 Workshop on Deployable Decision Making in Embodied Systems (DDM-ES)

The workshop will be virtual and will take place on December 13 or 14 (exact date TBD).


Embodied systems are playing an increasingly important role in our lives. Examples include, but are not limited to, autonomous driving, drone delivery, and service robots. In real-world deployments, the systems are required to safely learn and operate under the various sources of uncertainties. As noted in the Roadmap for US Robotics (2020), safe learning and adaptation is a key aspect of next-generation robotics. Learning is ingrained in all components of the robotics software stack including perception, planning, and control. While the safety and robustness of these components have been identified as critical aspects for real-world deployments, open issues and challenges are often discussed separately in the respective communities. In this workshop, we aim to bring together researchers from machine learning, computer vision, robotics, and control to facilitate interdisciplinary discussions on the topic of deployable decision making in embodied systems.

Discussion Themes

We are inviting researchers from both academia and the industry to join our discussions on the following two topics:

  • Theme A: Safe Learning and Decision Making in Uncertain and Unstructured Environments
  • Theme B: Efficient Transfer Learning for Deployable Embodied Systems

Invited Speakers

Theme A: Safe Learning and Decision Making in Uncertain and Unstructured Environments

Prof. Zico Kolter, CMU (Confirmed)
Prof. Nick Roy, MIT (Confirmed)
Prof. Yarin Gal, University of Oxford (Confirmed)
Dr. Sandeep Neema, DARPA, Assured Autonomy Program Lead (Confirmed)

Theme B: Efficient Transfer Learning for Deployable Embodied Systems

Dr. Martin Riedmiller, DeepMind (Confirmed)
Prof. Shuran Song, Columbia University (Confirmed)
Prof. Yisong Yue, Caltech (Conditionally Confirmed Based on Diversity)
Prof. Aude Billard, EPFL (Confirmed)


We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive online environment that allows researchers from different communities to exchange their views and ideas. Our workshop is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange. We envision the workshop to be a full-day event consisting of

  1. lecture-style presentations given by the invited speakers to summarize their perspectives on the topic,
  2. moderated discussion panels facilitating discussions between the invited speakers and the audience, and
  3. a poster session where junior members of the research community can share their ideas in interactive, thematic group discussions.

To further foster open-ended discussions, we will leverage the virtual format and make an effort to connect researchers with different seniority and background for informal exchange and mentoring.


Below is a tentative program of the workshop. Times are in EST.

10:00–10:10: Welcome & Opening Remarks
10:10–10:20: Theme A Introduction
10:20–11:20: Theme A Invited Lecture Session
11:20–11:25: Coffee Break
11:25–12:10: Theme A Focused Panel Discussion
12:10–12:55: Lunch Social
12:55–13:45: Poster Session
13:45–13:55: Theme B Introduction
13:55–14:55: Theme B Invited Lecture Session
14:55–15:00: Coffee Break
15:00–15:45: Theme B Focused Panel Discussion
15:45–16:00: Concluding Remarks


Angela Schoellig, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
Animesh Garg, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Somil Bansal, Research Scientist, Waymo
Melissa Greeff, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
SiQi Zhou, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Program Committee

Sarah Dean (UC Berkeley)
Gabriel Kalweit (University of Freiburg)
Katie Kang (UC Berkeley)
James Lucas (University of Toronto)
Qiyang Li (UC Berkeley)
Chris McKinnon (Applanix)
Karime Pereida (Kindred)
Mengye Ren (University of Toronto)
Spencer Richards (Stanford)
Guanya Shi (Caltech)
Florian Shkurti (University of Toronto)
Tim Tang (Oxford)
Kyriakos Vamvoudakis (Georgia Tech)
Zhaoming Xie (University of British Columbia)

University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies