Illah Nourbakhsh

Illah Nourbakhsh

Carnegie Mellon University, PA

United States

Research Areas

Human-computer Interaction, Robots


Illah Nourbakhsh was born in Tehran, Iran. He completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science at Stanford University in 1992, 1994, and 1996, respectively. Joining the staff at Carnegie Mellon in 1997, he currently serves as a Professor of Robotics, the director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) lab, and head of the Robotics Masters Program in CMU’s Robotics Institute. From 1997 to 2005, he served as the founder and Chief Scientist of Blue Pumpkin Software, Inc., and in 2004 during a sabbatical from CMU he worked as Robotics group lead at NASA/AMES Research Center. Nourbakhsh’s research interests in robotics include human-robot interaction and systems and community-based robotics. For his work he has received several awards and honors, including being named Kavli Fellow in 2009 by the Academy of Sciences and being inducted into the Junes Harless West Virginia Hall of Fame in 2013.

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Illah Nourbakhsh discusses his work in robotics, focusing on artificial intelligence and planning, and the challenges and future of the field. Describing his involvement in projects, such as the Book Store Project and the automated highway system project, he outlines the state of robotics at Stanford, the start of his company (Blue Pumpkin Software), and his arrival and work at Carnegie Mellon. Additionally he discusses his work on educational projects, such as the Dinosaur Hall, and at NASA, and comments on the potential for robotics in education and space exploration.