Sertac Karaman has been named director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), MIT’s longest continuously-running lab. Karaman, an associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, began his appointment on July 1.
“This is an extremely exciting time for LIDS, with the tremendous advances in automated decision-making systems and their deployment,” says Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and the Henry Ellis Warren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “I am delighted to have Sertac in this leadership role with the college, as he looks to build on the storied 80-year history of LIDS and in leading the lab to exciting new breakthroughs.”
Karaman succeeds John Tsitsiklis, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering. Tsitsiklis, who began his tenure as LIDS director in 2017, stepped down in December 2020 to take a sabbatical. Eytan Modiano, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and associate director of LIDS for the past several years, has been filling in as interim director.
Karaman’s research interests lie in the broad area of embedded systems and mobile robotics. His recent research has focused on developing planning and control algorithms for autonomous vehicles and autonomy-enabled transportation systems. He has worked on driverless cars, unpiloted aerial vehicles, distributed aerial surveillance systems, air traffic control algorithms, certification and verification of control systems software, and many other research areas.
In 2007, he was on MIT’s team that built a self-driving car and competed in the DARPA Urban Challenge. His experience with robotic platforms also includes developing an autonomous forklift and fully-autonomous agile drones, and working with Willow Garage’s personal robot, PR2. In 2015, he co-founded Optimus Ride, an MIT-spinoff company based in Boston that develops self-driving vehicle technologies to enable efficient, sustainable, and equitable mobility.
Karaman studied mechanical engineering and computer engineering as an undergraduate. He earned his master’s in mechanical engineering and his PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
LIDS was founded in 1940 under the name Servomechanism Lab. Today, LIDS is an interdepartmental research center committed to advancing research and education in the analytical information and decision sciences, specifically systems and control; communications and networks; and inference and statistical data processing. Members of the LIDS community share a common approach to solving problems and recognize the fundamental role that mathematics, physics, and computation play in their research.