About me

My name is Yifan Zhu, and I am a postdoctoral research scholar at the Yale GRAB Lab, advised by Prof. Aaron Dollar. Previously, I obtained a Ph.D. at the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I was a member of the Intelligent Motion Lab and advised by Prof. Kris Hauser on robotics. There are two fronts of my research. On one hand, I work on data-driven modeling of deformable objects and planning robot motions in deformable environments. On the other front, I have been developing a nursing assistant robot called TRINA with my colleagues, and enabling it with both tele-operation and autonomous capabilities. You are welcome to check out my research page on the lab website.


June 2023: I successfully defended on 06/20!

April 2023: Our paper ``Few-shot Adaptation for Manipulating Granular Materials Under Domain Shift” is accepted to RSS 2023! We also release a scooping dataset with over 6,000 scoops on a diverse set of materials: website, paper.

Nov 2022: Our robot TRINA has been participating in the AVATAR XPRIZE competition as Team AVATRINA, and we just scored 4-th in the finals, one of the only 4 teams that completed all 10 tasks: media.

Selected Publications

  • J. Marques*, P. Naughton*, J. C. Peng*, ,Y. Zhu*,J. S. Nam, Q. Kong, X. Zhang, A. Penmetcha, R. Ji, N. Fu, V. Ravibaskar, R. Yan, N. Malhotra, and K. Hauser, ``Immersive Commodity Telepresence with the TRINA Robot Avatar,” International Journal of Social Robots, 2024. link (* Denotes equal contribution)

  • Y. Zhu*, P. Thangeda*, M. Ornik and K. Hauser. Few-shot Adaptation for Manipulating Granular Materials Under Domain Shift. Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), 2023. link Website&Dataset (* Denotes equal contribution)

  • Y. Zhu, A. Smith, and K. Hauser. Automated Heart and Lung Auscultation in Robotic Physical Examinations. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2022. pdf link

  • Y. Zhu, K. Lu, and K. Hauser. Semi-Empirical Simulation of Learned Force Response Models for Heterogeneous Elastic Objects. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), June 2020pdf Summary video ICRA 10-minute talk video

  • Y. Zhu, Z. Pan, and K. Hauser. Contact-Implicit Trajectory Optimization with Learned Deformable Contacts Using Bilevel Optimization. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2021. pdf Supplemental video

  • Y. Zhu, L. Abdulmajeid, and K. Hauser. Data-driven Approach for Fast Simulation of Robot Locomotion on Granular Media. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May, 2019. pdf Summary video ICRA 10-minute talk video

Robots that I work with

drawing UR5drawing TRINAdrawing Robosimiandrawing Franka Panda