Hello is not just a greeting. The moment you open this page, we are connected. No mater who you are or where you are, it is my honor to be known by you from 6 billion people on this planet. I don't believe you open the page randomly, cause there are billions of pages been viewed and visited every second, but why me, why this one, why this moment. So just keep reading, regard this as some kind of asynchronous communication. If you want to tell me something, hit the connect button and leave me a message, then we will be strangers no more!

Welcome again to my home in this internet world. The owner of this piece of land is currently a master student studying Robotics at University of Pennsylvania, whose ultimate academic goal is to build the 'brain' of robots! If robots only mean machines or mechanical devices, you might want to think it again. To me, robot is a life form who shares this world with us. It could be a piece of code, or a circuit board or even your smart phone. But this kind of life is so young and not yet well developed, which means it is not clever enough and always need human beings, its creators, to help them to finish their tasks. It is obviously not good enough!

Fortunately, lots of amazing achievements have been made in mathematics and statistics in the past few years, which recently popularize a field of study, Machine Learning. I believe machine learning gives us a key to eventually open the door for robots to be able to think and behave just like us -- human beings, or at least much smarter than those we already have. I can feel that moment is coming and I am so eager to evolve into it.

However, it is not a easy journey to build smarter robots. If we want to apply machine learning to robotics, we need to solve two major problems. The first one is where and how to get the data that robots need to learn from. All the successful exampleds of machine learning we have are the applications on the big data. When we train a robot, where the data come from? Please recall growth of a human being, parents and teachers spend at least 16 years to train a person to be mature. Thus the next question we need to ask is do robots need teachers? If the answer is yes, how should these teachers teach robots and how many years a robot need to learn before he can do work independently? Even if we find a way to answer all those questions above and successfully gather huge amount of data we can use, there will still be another open question about data themselves, in which format we can represent them so machines can use them.

The second major problem is what model or models we should use to teach or control robots. It is actually depends on the architecture of robots we design in the future. On high computational power platform, we may use some fancy but time consuming algorithm, like deep learning; on the other hand on low computational power platform we may need some fast or updatable algorithm, like SVM or perceptron. However is it the way we want to design robots, from a specific case to another specific case? Is there a way we can generalize the scheme? Machine learning people knows testing an observation or a group of observations is always much faster than training a model. Therefore, the next question should be asked is can robots share the same brain, which might be a network that contains thousands of machines. This kind of network will make training any kinds of model easier and faster, and only need to push back models to robots, which can be used by robots to make decisions. Cloud Robotics seems to give us a very promising solution.

Hopefuly, one day I will have the opportunities to work all those questions out and achieve something that will reshape this world permanently.


My Name is Yunkai Cui, you can also call me Edward

I am currently a master student studying Robotics at University of Pennsylvania and also a member of Modlab (Modular Robots laboratory), which is a subsidiary of GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception) lab at Penn. I am doing research on topics involving modular robots simulation, reconfiguration algorithm, tasks understanding and control commands sequence generation, advised by Dr. Mark Yim. My current project is building a simulator for SMORES modular robot platform using Gazebo. My long term topic is environment based task generalization, understanding and execution. I'm also intrested in various machine learning problems, motion planning optimization, data visulization, image processing, machine perception, PCB design, mechatronics, app and web design, running, painting, photogrphing and hiking.

e-mail: yunkai(at)seas(dot)upenn(dot)edu

  • Robots
  • Circuit
  • Design
  • Photo

Resume | A PDF version


University of Pennsylvania
2012 - present

Candidate for Master of Science in Robotics, expected May 2014
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Master's thesis topic: Environment based task generalization and understanding for modular robot reconfiguration

Shanghai Jiao Tong University
2009 - 2012

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, June 2013
Shanghai Jiao Tong University-Tyco International Scholarship


Dean's List, SEAS, Penn (2012 - 2013)

Excellent Undergraduate Student Creative Project Award, SJTU (Apr. 2012)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University-Tyco International Scholarship (Dec. 2011)

Government Award for Excellent College Student Creative Projects, Shanghai (Sept. 2011)

Excellent Volunteer and Week Star in Shanghai EXPO (Oct. 2010)

First Prize winner in 26th CPhO (Chinese Physics Olympiad) (Mar. 2009)

Gold Medal Winner, 15th Hope Cup National Mathematics Contest, China (Nov. 2005)


PennApps Top 20 Demonstration, 2013 Spring

Irvine Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Jan. 2013

The hardware and software structure of the "Skynet" remote robot arena network


Research Assistant, Modlab, GRASP, Penn
​Feb. 2013 - present

Worked on general modular robot topics.
Supervised by Dr. Mark Yim

Teaching Assistant, MEAM 520, SEAS, Upenn
​Aug. 2013 - Dec. 2013

Worked as a TA for Introduction to Robotics,
Assisting Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker

Teaching Assistant, CIS 515, SEAS, Upenn
​Aug. 2013 - Dec. 2013

Worked as a TA for Liner Algebra and Optimization,
Assisting Dr. Jean Gallier


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Member


  • C/C++
  • Matlab
  • Latex
  • Linux Shell
  • JavaScript
  • SQL
  • Python
  • PHP


  • OpenGL
  • jQuery
  • Node.js
  • Oracle
  • Qt
  • Solidworks
  • Altium Designer
  • Labview
  • Siemens NX
  • AutoCAD


The new SMORES Modular Robot platform
From Aug 31, 2013 to present

This is a NSF funded project and I am currently cooperating with a group at Cornel. The general ideas is to use the reconfiguration of the SMORES robots to do something useful. My master's thesis topic is based on this platform to abstract the representation of tasks and environment constraints and use those information to generate a control sequence automatically. And to simulate the algorithm, I am also building a simulator in GAZEBO. For more information about the simulator, please visit my github repo. For old SMORES project, please visit Modlab homepage.

For details, please read more!

Logo Replacement
On Dec 21, 2013

This is the final project of the Computer Vision class. The goal of this project is to achieve the automatic detection and replacement of embedded advertising logos in images and videos. The basic idea of our method is to use SiFT algorithm to achieve original logo detection, then using TPS to do the new logo transformation, and applying first derivative gradient blending to blend the new logo into the scene. For this project, I invented a feature points matching method by using barycentric coordinates, which improved the matching performance of the original SiFT algorithm profoundly.

For details, please read more!

ImageNation - From scratch to a website
On Dec 15, 2013

We built this website for Database & information System class. It is an image sharing website, similar to Pinterest. We hosted our website on Amazon EC2, and our database on Amazon JDBC. Because of the credit issues, this website is no longer online. We used node.js to build our server, Oracle as our database, and jQuery for fron-end design. We wrote our own MVC framework and embedded REST in our website.

For details, please read more!

A Bag of Words
On Dec 6, 2013

How precise we can predict a rate of a restaurant only given all the words in that review? If we choose the correct method, the answer is it will be very accurate. This project is the final project of Machine Learning class, for which we need to train a prediction model on 20000 revealed data and make the prediction on 15000 unreleased data. We finally won the fifth place with a time consumption only one third of the top 3 teams.

For details, please read more!

A Lightening Fast Panorama
On Nov 17, 2013

6 653x368 images stitch togather in 12 seconds on a dual core i5 laptop, could be faster if Matlab can provide better image display function that can take less than 6 seconds to show stitched high resolution image. Meanwhile, the images are blended perfectly so that it is very hard to find the seams if there are any. I developed this mosaic algorithm for Computer Vision class project, and I am now discussing the possibility of a potential publication with the class instructor, Dr. Jianbo Shi.

For details, please read more!

Image Morphing
On Oct 15, 2013

It's a project for Computer Vision. I had a lot of fun doing this project. And I think we can use this method to design an app to predict what the child of two selected people looks like!

For details, please read more!

Amazing Circuit
On June 10, 2013

It is a PCB I designed for my senior design. The whole project is to redsign a solar cell powered mobile robot which can drive in unknown environment. I did lots of echanical design, PCB design and of course coding.

For details, please read more!

Cirular Logo Impainting
On April 25, 2013

This is the final project of Machine Perception class. The main focus of this project is feature (ellipse) detection in Hough space and homography transformation.

For details, please read more!

An old fashion stitching
On April 10, 2013

Stitching images in rectificated space, my first touch of OpenCV.

For details, please read more!

Canon on a 8-bit microcontroller
On Dec 20, 2012

Large range frequency generation from a small and not so power 8 bit microcontroller. So I decided to play some music with it. Hope you enjoy the music from pure sine waves!

For details, please read more!

Robockey2012 from MEAM Design on Vimeo.

Robockey Game 2012
On Dec 12, 2012

A famous competetion in engineering school at Penn is also the final project of Mechantronic class. Almost a week's hard work without sleeping, we designed three little beasts to fight in this epic game.

For details, please read more!

Puma Light Painting
On Oct, 2012

This is a project for Robotics class. We used old Puma robot to paint an image in the air. We choosed to paint a 2D image because it is easier but more interesting. We did the trajectory optimization of PUMA robot end effector so that we were able to get as smooth trajectory as possible.

For details, please read more!

Freescale Cup Intelligent Car Racing
On Sept 20, 2011

My team mate Chris (Chuang) Wang was putting the car on the track! We won the first prize in this competition, but more important, we learned a lot. I was in my sophomore year, and from then I never stopped creating and designing.

For details, please read more!


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