wil thomason

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Kavraki Lab at Rice University. I work with Professor Lydia Kavraki on combining symbolic and geometric planning. Specifically, I’m interested in improving the efficiency, robustness, and utility of robot task and motion planning (TMP), with a particular focus on making TMP under uncertainty practically useful.

Though I primarily research robot planning, I’m also interested in ML and formal methods for robotics, robotics research broadly, and programming languages. I am graciously funded by the CRA CIFellows 2021 postdoctoral fellowship.


I work on combining symbolic and geometric planning, often referred to as “integrated task and motion planning”. My work explores approaches to task and motion planning that provide high performance and robustness to action failure with lightweight domain-specific assumptions. I also research approaches to improved planning effort reuse through abstract plan representation and fusions of classical planning with modern machine learning for more efficient, automatic planning and execution.

For more about my research, please see my publication and presentation list.


Service and Outreach

  • I was a faculty chair for RSS Pioneers 2021, helping to recruit invited speakers and design the program for the workshop
  • I served as a reviewer for AURO, Black in AI (2017-2020), ICRA (2016, 2019-2023), IJCAI 2021, IJRR (2022), IROS (2017, 2022, 2023), MRS 2019, RA-L (2021-2023), RSS (2019), SIMPAR (2018), T-ASE (2020), and WAFR (2018).
  • I was a mentor for Black in AI, providing assistance and advice to my mentee on his Ph.D. program application process. (Fall 2019 - Spring 2020)
  • I helped review extended abstracts for the Black in AI workshop. (Fall 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020)
  • I taught 7th and 8th grade girls about state machines and programming at Cornell’s Expanding your Horizons conference. (Spring 2016, 2017, and 2018)


Departmental Service