About me

Joao is currently a PhD candidate in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His academic trajectory has been multidisciplinary, with the unifying thread of trying to bring service robots into the real, unstructured world - be it by incorporating perception into motion planning or by enabling these robots to leverage human expertise through teleoperation.

His work investigates how semantically annotated maps can be used for gainful downstream robotic tasks, like autonomous ultraviolet disinfection, object goal navigation and, most recently, manipulation enhanced mapping and object retrieval. He’s also studied the issue of confidence calibration in semantic maps.

On the teleoperation realm, he co-developed the Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant (TRINA) robot, which placed 4th in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE challenge, showing that intuitive and immersive teleoperation can be achieved without making use of intrusive exoskeleton devices.

Currently, he is invesigating the issue of manipulation enhanced mapping and its relation to domestic object retrieval with mobile manipulators.


Mar 2024: Even more good news! Our paper “On the Overconfidence Problem in Semantic 3D Mapping” has been accepted for presentation at ICRA 2024! I’m excited to see you all in Japan!

Feb 2024: I’m happy to announce that our paper, “Immersive Commodity Telepresence with the AVATRINA Robot Avatar” has been published at the International Journal of Social Robotics! It is a great summary of our lab’s work towards effective teleoperation in VR!

Jan 2024: My patent with Kris and Zherong on ultraviolet disinfection planning has finally been granted! Glad to add what I hope will be the first of many to my CV!

Jun 2023: We’re happy to present both of our papers at the 2nd Workshop Towards Robot Avatars at ICRA 2023! I’m excited to share what we learned during the TRINA’s development - and to hear from other avatar creators about their experiences with this growing technology!

Nov 2022: We’re proud to announce that our robot TRINA was one of only 4 teams that were able to complete all 10 tasks in the ANA Avatar Xprize finals! While we did miss the podium, placing 4th, our robot performed admirably - and was the only exoskeleton-free robot to finish the track!