About Us


Comprised of members from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Carnegie Mellon University, Team WPI-CMU strives to foster a dedicated and well-managed team, composed of students, professors, and professional engineers, collaborating to discover and lead the state-of-the-art research enabling advanced human-level performance for the Atlas humanoid. We aim to publicly demonstrate the successful completion of tasks related to major disaster response with the intent of leading to relevant peer-reviewed publications, credibility for future DARPA solicitations, and the ultimate goal of winning the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

* Optimization Based Full Body Control for the Atlas Robot: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sfeng/sfew_hum14.pdf
* 3D Walking Based on Online Optimization: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sfeng/sf_humanoids13.pdf
* Tight Coupling between Manipulation and Perception using SLAM: http://users.wpi.edu/~bpwiselybabu/iros_workshop_bpwiselybabu.pdf

Meet The Team


Team Photos

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Principal Investigators

Prof. Michael Gennert (PI)
Michael Gennert
Prof. Michael A. Gennert is Director of the Robotics Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he is Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, MA, the University of California/Riverside, General Electric Ordnance Systems, Pittsfield, MA and PAR Technology Corporation, New Hartford, NY. He received the S.B. in Computer Science, S.B. in Electrical Engineering, and S.M. in Electrical Engineering in 1980 and the Sc.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1987 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Gennert is interested in Computer Vision, Image Processing, Scientific Databases, and Programming Languages, with ongoing projects in biomedical image processing, robotics, and stereo and motion vision. He is author or co-author of over 100 papers. He is a member of Sigma Xi, NDIA Robotics Division, and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council Robotics Cluster, and a senior member of IEEE and ACM.


Prof. Taskin Padir (Co-PI)
Taskin Padir
Prof. Taskin Padir is an Assistant Professor of Robotics Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He received his Ph.D and M.S. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University. He holds a B.S in electrical and electronics engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey. His expertise is in the design, modeling and control of robotic systems and intelligent vehicles. He is the Director of Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research Laboratory (RIVeR Lab) at WPI (robot.wpi.edu). His research interests include human-in-the-loop robotic systems, design of robot control interfaces, cooperating robots, control of redundant robot systems, control of ground vehicles, navigation, path planning, and mapping for autonomous robots. His projects have been sponsored by NSF, NASA, AFRL, The Mathworks, Solidworks, and National Instruments. Dr. Padir’s leadership in robotics education has been recognized by DARPA when he was invited to attend the DARPA Exploratory Robotics Training Platform Meeting, an invitation-only workshop to discuss the requirements for resources to meet the personnel needs of the Department of Defense. Moreover, he received the Inaugural Rho Beta Epsilon Award for Excellence in Robotics Education in 2010 and 2011 Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education for his contributions to WPI’s unique undergraduate program in Robotics Engineering. He is the Senior Guest Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Education, Special Issue on Robotics Education. He is also the Technical Program Chair for the IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications. Dr. Padir has successfully included undergraduate students teams in his research through rigorous competition-based robotics projects. Student teams advised by Dr. Padir received the following recognitions: First Place at NASA/National Institute of Aerospace Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Exploration Robo-ops Competition in 2011 and 2012, First Place Award in the 2012 ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition Undergraduate Robot Division, Rookie- of-the-Year Award at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition organized by DoD-TARDEC in 2010, and Honorable Mention at the Inaugural Cornell Cup presented by Intel in 2012. Professor Padir teaches undergraduate Unified Robotics I-IV and a graduate level robot control course.


Prof. Chris Atkeson (Co-PI)
chrisProf. Chris Atkeson is a Professor in the Robotics Institute and Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics (Computer Science) from Harvard University and Ph.D. degree in Brain and Cognitive Science from M.I.T. Prof. Atkeson joined the M.I.T. faculty in 1986, moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing in 1994, and moved to Carnegie Mellon University in 2000. He has received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Teaching Award from the MIT Graduate Student Council.



Mathew DeDonato
xheadshot.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Szjas-0byzMatt DeDonato is a graduate of the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree Robotics Engineering programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Matt has worked as a Robotics Engineer at Deep Quest Engineering, designing autonomous submarines and at Teledyne Webb Research, working on their autonomous underwater profiler product line. Matt’s areas of interest include software and electrical design, as well as systems integration. mattdedonato.com



Kevin Knoedler
Kevin KnoedlerKevin Knoedler is an experienced manager and engineer. He has led and contributed to many multi-site, cross-functional teams. Mr. Knoedler was an engineer and engineering manager at Teradyne for 12 years. Mr. Knoedler contributed to the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenges with the development of planning algorithms and as a safety driver. One of the vehicles Mr. Knoedler contributed to drove itself autonomously through the desert for 16 miles.

Felipe Polido

felipeFelipe is passionate about robotics, signal processing and control theory. For his undergraduate degree, he got his diploma in May of 2011 from WPI in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Robotics Engineering. For the past couple of years, he has worked as a contractor in a few different fields including wireless sensors, robotics and home automation. But the DARPA Robotics Challenge was so exciting that he had to return to WPI’s RiVeR lab for a Master’s degree.


Team Members
Benzun Pious Wisely Babu

benzunI was born in a small hospital in Nagercoil which is a city in South Tamil Nadu, India. I am grateful to my mom who is the reason for making me what I am today (I will miss her always!!). My dad has always been the backbone of our family, supporting us in all our endeavors. My alma mater, Indian School Muscat, Oman is where I was inspired and motivated to pursue a career in engineering. I pursued B.tech in ECE at National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (formerly called Regional Engineering College Trichy). Currently I am doing Masters in Robotics Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I love pretty much everything in robotics and like to work on all aspects of robotics but my specific interests lie in Computer Vision.

Josh Graff
Josh GraffA freshman from Detroit, Michigan, Josh is excited to be working with the DRC team this year as Lab Manager at WPI. Working in the lab in his free time, he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Robotics Engineering. Before coming to WPI, Josh spent his four years in high school on FRC Team 247. Now he manages a team of twenty students in maintaining the lab and running tests. While he specializes in mechatronics, Josh is also working on his programming skills in an effort to minor in Computer Science.
In his free time (not spent in the DRC Lab), Josh enjoys professional sound production and HAM radio. He also spends much of his time in the manufacturing labs, working with Haas machinery and tooling. In the upcoming summer Josh is seeking an internship in the industry where he can get an introduction to the industry; he has skills in tool use, basic wiring, CAD CAM, and CNC tools.
Nandan Banerjee

Nandan BanerjeeHe graduated with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, INDIA. He started working with Samsung Electronics right after graduation and worked for a year at it’s Bangalore R&D centre. He is currently a Masters student in Robotics Engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is an Embedded Systems and Robotics enthusiast with an inclination towards Image Processing and Computer Graphics and he has been pursuing his interests through various projects in these fields. He has experience in various languages which include Visual C++ (both Win32 and CLR application programming), qt, Java (mostly Android) and Delphi. Apart from this, he also has a substantial experience in working with software APIs like openCV, OpenGL, CUDA, Android SDK.

Ruixiang Du

ruixiangRuixiang Du is a Ph.D student in the Robotics Engineering program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Ruixiang received his Bachelors of Science in Automation from North China Electric Power University (NCEPU) in 2011. He completed his Master of Science in Robotics Engineering at WPI in May 2013, after which he formally joined RIVeR Lab. Ruixiang’s areas of interest include human-in-the-loop control systems, autonomous navigation and control of intelligent vehicles. http://rdu.im/

Peng He

pengPeng He is a graduate student of Master’s degree Robotics Engineering programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Peng has gained his Bachelor’s degree of Engineering at Dalian Jiaotong University with a combined major from mechanical engineering and software engineering. He finished the Grad Design on a embedded platform system which earned him an award from one of his university’s best works. After having an internship at Beijing Zhenbang Aerospace Precision Machinery Company, he supported himself to reinforce the comupter science skills at UC San Deigo. He wants to contribute his knowledge into robotics which is his dream and that is a perfect reason for what he is doing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge now, at WPI.

Xianchao Long

xianchaoXianchao Long is a Ph.D. student in the Robotics Engineering program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Xianchao received his Bachelors of Science in Electronic Information Engineering from Hunan University, Hunan, China. In the first two years at WPI, he was working on applying tactile sensor technology for the robot navigation. In 2013, he joined RIVeR Lab and started his research in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. Xianchao’s current areas of interest include optimal control and optimal motion planning.

  • Xiaopeng Chen (Carnegie Mellon University RI, Postdoc)
  • Chenggang Liu (Carnegie Mellon University RI, Postdoc)
  • Siyuan Feng, (Carnegie Mellon University RI, PhD Student)
  • Ben Xinjilefu, (Carnegie Mellon University RI, PhD Student)
  • Bowei Tang, (Carnegie Mellon University ME, PhD Student)
  • Perry Franklin, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Undergrad)
  • Chris Bove, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Undergrad)
  • Aaron Jaeger, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Undergrad)
  • Lening Li, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Masters Student)
  • Xiongyi Cui, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Masters Student)

Past Team Members

  • Doug Conn
  • Eric Whitman
  • Joohyung Kim
  • Weiwei Huang
  • Daniel Miller
  • Hirotaka Moriguchi
  • Alison Kristoff
  • Trent Tabor
  • Velin Dimitrov
  • Dongil Choi
  • Ryan Giovacchini
  • Nick Cyganski
  • Henrique Polido

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