Dr. Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition he is Chief Scientist of RedZone Robotics, Inc. and Workhorse Technologies.
Dr. Whittaker establishes robots as tools for craft, labor and hazardous duty. His research centers on robots in field environments such as mines, work sites and natural terrain. He develops computer architectures for controlling mobile robots; modeling and planning for non-repetitive tasks; complex problems of objective sensing in random and dynamic environments; and integration of complete field robot systems.
Programs under Dr. Whittakers direction include unmanned robots to explore volcano interiors; automation of mining machines and farm equipment; remote worksystems for nuclear facility decommissioning; mobile robots for hazardous waste site investigation and nuclear accident assessment; autonomous land vehicle navigation research and research for robotic exploration of planetary surfaces and construction of orbital facilities.
Dr. Whittaker is developing mine mapping technology that is inspired by the events at the Quecreek Mine in Somerset, PA, in which 9 miners were trapped in a flooded mine for over three days. The miners became trapped when they drilled into an abandoned, flooded mine that, according to their map, should have been more than 300 feet away. Dr. Whittaker, along with his team, is developing robots that enter, explore, map and audit conditions in abandoned mines.
Dr. Whittaker has received numerous awards, including the Engelberger Technology Award, Design News Special Achievement Award, Aviation and Space Technology Laurels Award for outstanding achievement, and Carnegie Mellons 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 several select review panels, including the National Academy of Sciences Peer Review Committee on DOE Environmental Management Technologies; the National Research Council Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board; and the National Academy of Sciences Committee to Provide Interim Oversight of the DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex. 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 advised twenty-six Ph.D. students, has sixteen patents, and has authored over 200 publications.