Illah Nourbakhsh

Position: Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University

Links: Website, Robot Futures Blog

Expertise Areas: Robotics, Robot Ethics



Illah R. Nourbakhsh is Professor of Robotics, director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) lab ( and head of the Robotics Masters Program in The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His current research projects explore community-based robotics, including educational and social robotics and ways to use robotic technology to empower individuals and communities, as described in this CREATE Lab white paper. The CREATE Lab’s researchers lead diverse projects, from the application of GigaPan technology to scientific, citizen science and educational endeavours internationally to ChargeCar, a community-based effort to convert gasoline cars into locally customized electric vehicles; Hear Me, a project that uses technology to empower students to become leads in advocating for meaningful social change; Arts and Bots, a program for creative art and robotics fusion in middle school; Message from Me, a new system of communication between pre-K children and their parents to improve home-school consistency; and BodyTrack, an empowerment program that enables citizens to capture behavior, health factors and find ways to improve their well-being, to many other programs. The CREATE Lab’s programs have already engaged more that 23,000 people globally, and the CREATE Satellite program is forging additional CREATE lab partners in new geographic zones. Illah’s past research has included protein structure prediction under the GENOME project, software reuse, interleaving planning and execution and planning and scheduling algorithms, as well as mobile robot navigation. While on leave from Carnegie Mellon in 2004, he served as Robotics Group lead at NASA/Ames Research Center. He was a founder and chief scientist of Blue Pumpkin Software, Inc., which was acquired by Witness Systems, Inc. Illah earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in computer science at Stanford University and has been a faculty member of Carnegie Mellon since 1997. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 named him a Kavli Fellow. He is co-author of the second edition MIT Press textbook, Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots. He is author of the newly published MIT Press book for general readership, Robot Futures.


Illah Nourbakhsh in the News: