Laura Herlant

Hertz Fellow: Laura Herlant

Carnegie Mellon University

Area of Study


Fellowship Years

2014 - 2018

As an undergraduate in Computer Engineering, Laura joined FIRST Robotics Team 401 and was hooked. She says: “In high school I spent forty hours a week in the robotics lab and it never once felt like work. I realized if I could get a job developing robots I’d never work a day in my life.”

Like a lot of creative Americans she went to Paris and sipped coffee at cafes. She also spent a year at ENSTA ParisTech studying robots in its specialized Masters Program. She helped develop a novel algorithm to enable robots to improve known skills, and simultaneously learn new ones and when to use them. She explains: “I envision a robot that could assist an elderly or wheelchair-bound person. The robot would need to be able to learn new tasks through interaction with the human being. That way a programmer would not have to add a capability each time the robot had to do something new. I also foresee a military robot developed to learn a route across a certain terrain simply by watching a human driver. The robot could then advise subsequent drivers it sees on a satellite when it recognizes that they encounter the terrain.”

“My Hertz Fellowship provides the unique benefit of never having to worry how funding will affect my research. I’m excited about the network of like-minded and highly-motivated colleagues and friends that the Hertz Foundation opens to me.”

Fellowship Recipient:

Google Fellowship


2018 - Algorithms, Implementation, and Studies on Eating with a Shared Control Robot Arm