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William WhittakerWilliam "Red" Whittaker
Robots on the High Frontier
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Building 3 Auditorium - 3:30 PM
(Refreshments at 3:00 PM)

Dr. William L. "Red" Whittaker, will talk about Robots on the High Frontier. Robots are evolving as a workforce of choice beyond this planet. They are premier agents for exploration and science on remote worlds. New roles are emerging for robots as tools for craft, labor and hazardous duty in space.

Robots operate beyond the built environment, confronting uncontrived situations. They are now motivated more by productivity, reliability, quality & cost savings than they once were by historical motivations of hazard and human limitations. The best are tools, not toys that handle danger and drudgery on land, sea and air in addition to space. Terrestrial robot enterprises include energy, agriculture, defense, construction, mining, cleanup, utilities, security, surgery, disaster response and more; enterprises that dwarf traditional robotic applications like manufacturing, assembly and painting. It's dirty work. Something has to do it.

The presentation casts the vision of space robotics and considers the technology and robots that are fulfilling that vision. We will take an enchanting look at what these robots are, how they work, what they do, and how they are affecting the future of our world and worlds beyond.

Dr. William L. "Red" Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University where he directs the Field Robotics Center. He is also chief scientist of RedZone Robotics. His research centers on robots for field environments such as work sites and natural terrains. His expertise includes computer architectures to control mobile robots, modeling and planning for non-repetitive tasks, complex problems of objective sensing in random or dynamic environments, and integration of complete robot systems.

Projects under Dr. Whittaker's direction include unmanned exploration robots for planetary contexts and for servicing orbital assets. He has developed automated mining machines and farm equipment, remote worksystems for nuclear facilities, mobile robots for hazardous waste site investigation, and autonomous land vehicles.

Dr. Whittaker has received numerous awards, including Pittsburgh's Man of the Year for Technology and Carnegie Mellon's Teare Award for Teaching Excellence. Science Digest named him one of the top 100 U.S. innovators for his work in robotics. He has served on select review panels, including four National Research Council committees and the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. He is a member of the Center for the Commercial Development of Space, the Space Studies Institute, The American Nuclear Society Robotics and Remote Systems Division and is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Whittaker has authored or coauthored over 200 publications and has advised over 20 Ph.D. recipients.


IS&T Colloquium Committee Host: Jacqueline LeMoigne