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Sidharth Talia

I am a CS Ph.D. student at the University of Washington Seattle, part of Dr. Siddhartha Srinivasa's Personal Robotics Lab. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of systems ---hardware and software--- and contribute to some awesome open-source projects, such as the MuSHR project.  I generally take an interest in any aspect of robotics that requires contending with the physics and uncertainty of the real world. I also enjoy optimizing slow algorithms/methods to run on real hardware. Off-road autonomy is one problem area that sits at the intersection of all three, and to work on problems related to it, I have made a small-scale research platform at PRL, UW. Apart from robotics, I know my way around embedded systems, circuits, power electronics, and a little bit of RF. I've also won a few nitro-RC racing competitions, which require knowledge of mechanical engineering and fabrication.

If you're interested in seeing the projects I've made from the ground up, peruse my project blogs here or on the top right corner by clicking on "Project-stories". If you wish to understand how I think, understand concepts, and teach them, I recommend you to go through the control systems tutorial I wrote for first and second-year undergrad students. I prefer the approach where I start right from the basics and work my way up to the more complicated and math-related stuff. I also TA for the CSE478: Autonomous Robotics at UW regularly.


About me

I’ve had an interest in cars, planes, humanoids, jet engines, and so on from a very young age; as a kid, I would often go to the library in my school specifically to learn what makes them tick from one of those "how it works" books. In 9th grade, I bought and modified my first R/C car to have electronic stability control. In the 1st year of my undergraduate studies, I made my first quadcopter, where I programmed the flight controller myself in C++ and understood the core concepts of state estimation and control. Soon after realized my interest in robotics, and started interning at various companies or research labs to support my interests financially. 

I enjoyed the process of tinkering with the hardware and at the same time explaining the behaviors being observed mathematically. Having worked at various tech-related start-ups, either as an intern or a consultant, as well as research labs, the insights I bring to the table consider the practical as well as fundamental aspects.

I am particularly interested in problems that would have a positive real impact if solved. It is a privilege for me to have access to massive computing resources when I work at UW. Sadly this is not a privilege shared by many. As such, one of the problems that sits close to my heart is that of democratizing robotics, particularly, minimal cognition for AI; the idea of doing more with less. Apart from the societal impact, it effectively forces one to consider the fundamental aspects of the problem at hand and exploit any mathematical properties in the problem structure to gain computational advantage.

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