John Dolan's research goal is to create systems and methodologies that allow groups of robots and humans to collaborate with one another to perform useful tasks. His research is motivated by an interest in the modeling and control of physical systems on the one hand, and in the creation of effective human-machine interfaces on the other. Given continuing technological advances in computing, sensing, actuation, and miniaturization, he believes that the nexus of these two interests is an increasingly exciting area to explore.
The pursuit of this research involves two complementary thrusts. On the one hand, robot systems should be endowed with maximal autonomy. Perception, actuation, planning, and even tasking should be performed with the smallest amount of human intervention possible. Human attention and intelligence are then freed for supervisory and remedial actions that transcend the current competence of the robot or group of robots being controlled. On the other hand, human users should have increasingly effective means of tasking, controlling, and communicating with robots. Human control of robots then becomes less burdensome and more intuitive, and users are able to oversee more complex tasks with greater numbers of robots.