David Wettergreen - The Robotics Institute - CMU
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David Wettergreen

Portrait of David Wettergreen
Research Professor / Director of the PhD Program
Home Department: RI
Office: 2115 Newell-Simon Hall
Phone: (412) 268-5421
Administrative Assistant: Jean Harpley
Associated Center: FRC
Mailing Address

I am a research professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. My research focuses on robotic exploration: underwater, on the surface, and in air and space, and in the necessary ingredients of perception, planning, learning and control for robot autonomy.

My work spans conceptual and algorithm design through to field experimentation and results in mobile robots that explore the difficult, dangerous, and usually dirty places on Earth, in the service of scientific and technical investigations. Much of this work is relevant to ongoing and future space activities.

I am currently leading projects in robotic exploration using robots to investigate the geology and biology of the Atacama Desert in Chile using the rover Zoë.  It has surveyed over 250km autonomously measuring the distribution of micro-organisms.
In recent past I have developed and tested lunar polar prospectors, autonomous underwater cave explorers and technologies for Antarctic traverse.  I also led research in sun-synchronous navigation, conducting field experiments well above the Arctic Circle on Devon Island in Canada. Our rover Hyperion executed 24-hour long traverses tracking the ever present sun as it explored.
Research and development of mobile robotic systems involves complex systems engineering and is aided by effective software engineering practice. In a useful parallel, I teach System Engineering.

If you really want excruciating detail, here is my curriculum vitae.

I was a research fellow at the Australian National University working at the Robotic Systems Laboratory. The university is located in Canberra, the capital of Australia.  I led research in underwater robotics and developed Kambara, an autonomous submersible robot.

I was an NRC postdoctoral research associate at the NASA Ames Research Center working with the intelligent robotics group. We developed technologies for robotic exploration, which involved building robots, control architectures, and interfaces: virtual, telepresent, or othersuch.

We collaborated with the Robotics Institute for the Nomad project. Nomad [Image]trekked across the Atacama Desert of Chile, where it traveled 220 kilometers and performed a number of science experiments.

I also continued work on an architecture for autonomous exploration for the Marsokhod based on visually-guided navigation. We completed testing in the Painted Desert of Arizona but continue working on refinements.

In my spare time, I lead research in dexterous locomotion–exploring architectures, control methods, and mechanisms for stable legged locomotion in very rough terrain.

I completed my doctorate in Robotics at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. There I began my affiliation with the Field Robotics Center. I also began my work on walking robots, developing planning and control algorithms for the Ambler, a large six-legged walking robot. I helped establish the work in science rovers by instigating the Dante projects. Dante is a robot designed to explore volcanic craters and collect information about their physical properties and activity. Dante’s expeditions have taken it (and me) to Mount Erebus, Antarctica and to Mount Spurr, Alaska.

Displaying 171 Publications

Below is a list of this RI member's most recent, active or featured projects. To view archived projects, please visit the project archive


Robotic microrover being developed by Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoff Astrobotic

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