Microsoft Future Leaders in Robotics and AI Seminar Series: Merihan Alhafnaw

Friday, February 16, 2024
2:00 p.m.
Online seminar

Expressive robot swarms and multi-human-swarm interaction for social applications

Merihan Alhafnaw
Postdoctoral Fellow
Princeton University

Zoom Link


Robot swarms can be used as a new and exciting medium through which people can express themselves to one another. The swarm can help facilitate social group tasks that people might face in their daily lives. A robot swarm could especially be useful due to its distributed nature that helps with scaling to many robots and many users. In her talk, Merihan will present her research that focuses on designing, building and applying expressive robot swarms that support simultaneous interactions with many people in social tasks. During her PhD, Merihan designed and built MOSAIX, a swarm of 100 robot Tiles, that was applied in group tasks such as brainstorming, decision-making and collective art. MOSAIX was used in many public events by more than 400 people. In her postdoctoral research, Merihan combines swarm robotics and architecture to create self-adaptive structures that respond to the environment and human interaction.


Merihan is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University, working on self-adaptive structures. Merihan obtained her PhD in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (2022) and a Master's Degree in Robotics (2019) from University of Bristol, UK. Merihan obtained 2 best presentation awards (University of Bristol 2020 and IROS 2022 workshop) and a best video award (ICRA 2021 workshop) for her work on MOSAIX, a swarm of 100 social robot Tiles. Prior to her graduate studies, Merihan was part of the Digital Technology Leadership Program at General Electric (GE) supporting projects such as Brilliant Factories and Digital Twins in 3 different countries (UAE, UK and KSA). Merihan obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2016.  

About the Seminar Series

The Future Leaders in Robotics and AI: Celebrating Diversity and Innovation Seminar Series is part of the University of Maryland and Microsoft Robotics and Diversity Initiative. This is a nationwide online seminar series for PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, or early-career professionals, especially underrepresented minorities and women. The seminar series highlights the latest research and innovation in the field of robotics and AI. The series is intended to provide exposure and mentorship opportunities to the speakers, build a network of innovators across the country, and support the speakers’ career planning.

The seminars are held once per month during the academic year. There are two speakers per seminar. Each speaker gives a 20-minute research presentation followed by a Q&A segment. Immediately after the second seminar, the speakers participate in a discussion with faculty.

Audience: Public 

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