Stefan Schaal

Interview Location: United States

Interview Synopsis

In this interview Stefan Schaal discusses his career and work in robotics. Outlining his work at MIT and with the ERATO project in Japan, he moves on to describe his previous and current research at USC. He comments on the various problems and breakthroughs faced by robotics, on his own career successes and failures, and on the various influences and collaborations he has experienced throughout his career.


Stefan Schaal was born in Germany. He completed his primary education at the Technical University of Munich, where he received his M.S. and Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering and Artificial Intelligence in 1988 and 1991, respectively. From 1991 to 1994, he served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. Schaal was also an Invited Researcher at the ATR Human Information Processing Research Lab in Japan, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at the Department of Kinesiology of Pennsylvania State University. Following these appointments, he joined the University of South California (USC) in 1997, where he currently serves as a Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering. He is also Founding Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tuebingen, Germany, and an Invited Researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Lab in Japan. Schaal's research interests include statistical and machine learning, neural networks, computational neuroscience, functional brain imaging, nonlinear dynamics, nonlinear control theory, and biomimetic robotics.