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Barry Werger


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219
Pasadena, CA 91109





Barry Brian Werger

Member of Technical Staff


Barry Brian Werger has lived a double life in the worlds of arts and technology, and is on a perpetual mission to bring them together. He is currently employed as a robotics researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, specializing in multi-robot autonomous control, human-robot interaction, and distributed systems. He has previously been funded for multi-robot coordination research by the NSF, ONR, and DARPA, and has worked for a number of commercial robot manufacturers in development of robotic hardware, software, and software development tools, much of which has been put into use by universities and other research facilities around the world. Barry has been a pioneer in the field of autonomous robotic theater and performance art since 1995, and his robotic theater troupe "Ullanta Performance Robotics" has given performances in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Glasgow, Nagoya, Belgium, Paris, Vienna, and other cities. He's also developed many autonomous, interactive robotic exhibits and installations for museums, trade shows, and film and television productions. Barry is also an experienced audio/video producer, recording engineer, and graphic designer. Recently he's worked with musicians to develop a series of lecture-recitals relating visual art and musical movements of the 20th Century. Barry is also a well-known Quechua-language teacher and researcher, and organizes a number of groups, classes, and informal lessons. His scholarly publications can be found in many robotics and artificial intelligence journals, books, and conference proceedings; his robotic theater, performance art, and competition efforts have been widely reported in numerous scholarly works on the intersection of art and technology as well as in popular media.


Cornell University (Computer Science / Cognitive Studies / Latin American Studies)

Brandeis University (Computer Science / AI-Robotics)
University of Southern California (Computer Science / AI - Robotics)

Professional Experience

Ullanta Performance Robotics - Consulting and R&D Services: Independent contractor developing and maintaining software for robot manufacturers, developers, and end-users, as well as performance of robotic services such as robotic sales
exhibits and museum demonstrations. Commercial systems developed under contract include:

* Ayllu: A langauge for distributed port-arbitrated behavior-based control (PAB) which extends previous PAB implementations with increased scalability and the ability to to send, inhibit, and suppress messages over IP. Developed to support scalable control of heterogeneous robot teams. Distributed by ActivMedia, Inc., Ayllu is currently used in academic research laboratories in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, as well as in programs run by ONR and DARPA.

* P-LOGO: A version of the educational language LOGO, written to use the Pioneer I robot as a physical, sensing turtle. Based on Berkeley LOGO; distributed by ActivMedia, Inc.

* PAI: The Pioneer Application Interface, a package that provides simple and powerful low-level control and lightweight multitasking for the Pioneer robots. Distributed by ActivMedia, Inc.

* MARS/L for Pioneer: An adaptation of Rod Brooks' successor to the Behavior Language (a subset of Common LISP extended for behavior-based control) for the Pioneer mobile robot. Distributed by I.S. Robotics.

Other contracting activities have included software maintenance and new hardware support for ActivMedia (at the microcontroller, development software, and application levels), exhibitions given in museums such the Science Museum in Boston and the Millennium Dome in London, and "autonomous wandering sales exhibits" at trade shows such as MacWorld and most major robotics conferences.

Previously funded for multi-robot coordination research by the NSF, ONR, and DARPA

Research Interests

Scalable Coordination Techniques for Multi-Robot Teams: Extension of behavior-based interactions across networks for scalable, robust, re-usable multi-robot systems. Dynamic task-assignment given different levels of communication capability.

Minimalist Robotic Control: Minimalization of sensing and computation requirements for tasks. Exploitation of situatedness of robot systems. Use of multiple simple robots to achieve complex tasks or replace complex sensors.

Development Tools for Robotic Systems: Code libraries, languages, and architectures which facilitate rapid development of robust, scalable, re-usable single and multi-robot systems.
Software Architecture: For real-time robotic systems

Real-World Robotic Systems:Implementation of autonomous robotic systems which must perform regularly and reliably in demanding real-world situations such as interactive museum demonstrations and exhibits, wnadering sales exhibits at trade shows, theatrical robots, RoboCup soccer and other competitions.

Planetary Robotic Exploration: Multi-robot systems for construction tasks, planning and navigation for scientific activities in unknown, unstructured environments, and techniques to maximize safety and longevity of planetary rovers.