Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar

Thursday March 31, 2022 11:00 AM

The DARPA Grand Challenges: A Caltech Perspective

Speaker: Prof. Joel W. Burdick, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Caltech
Location: Gates-Thomas 135

Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar Series

Title: The DARPA Grand Challenges: A Caltech Perspective

Starting 20 years ago, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) began a series of "Grand Challenges" in the field of robotics research. To date there have been 5 such grand challenges. In each challenge, teams of researchers and engineers competed to develop an innovative system to solve a problem (such as autonomous driving across the desert, or autonomous searches of underground tunnels) that was considered "beyond-the-state-of-the-art" at the time of their specification. Caltech is one of only two universities that have competed in all 5 of the DARPA Grand Challenges.

This talk will review all five of the challenges, and Caltech's efforts in these challenges. In addition to describing some of the novel robots that were developed for these challenges, the robotics research problems that had to be addressed in several of these challenges will be summarized to highlight the complexity of these challenges.

Bio: Joel Burdick received his undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and chemistry from Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He has been with the department of Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology since May 1988, where he has been the recipient of the NSF Presidential Young Investigator award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award, and the Feynman fellowship. Prof. Burdick has also received the ASCIT award for excellence in undergraduate teaching and the GSA award for excellence in graduate student education. He has been a finalist for the best paper award for the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in 1993, 1999, 2000, and 2005. He was the plenary speaker at the National Academy of Engineering's annual meeting in 1999. He was appointed an IEEE Robotics Society Distinguished Lecturer in 2003. In addition to his position in Mechanical Engineering, Prof. Burdick has also held a joint appointment in the department of BioEngineering since 2002. Prof. Burdick's research interests lie mainly in the areas of robotics, kinematics, and mechanical systems. Current research interests include sensor based robot motion planning, multi-fingered robotic hand manipulation, and rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries.

NOTE: At this time, in-person Mechanical and Civil Engineering Lectures are open to all Caltech students/staff/faculty/visitors with a valid Caltech ID.

Series Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar Series

Contact: Jenni Campbell
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