Eric Whitman


Me.

In 2008, I received a B.S.E. in Mechanic and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, and in 2013, I received a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute working for Chris Atkeson, but located in Worcester, collaborating with WPI's DARPA Robotics Challenge team.

Research Interests

I am interested in control of high degree-of-freedom nonlinear dynamic systems in the presence of large external disturbances and modeling error. My research has focused on bipedal walking. I try to develop state space controllers for walking that do not rely on trajectories or any notion of nominal motion. The goal is to make the walking system robust to large disturbances by making controllers that are stable for large regions of state space.

Thesis

Coordination of Multiple Dynamic Programming Policies for Control of Bipedal Walking

My thesis was on a novel method of control for bipedal walking based on the optimal coordination of multiple low-dimensional policies.

Dynamic Programming is a powerful algorithm that can generate optimal policies for large regions of state space, but is limited to low dimensional state spaces. To extend it to larger problems, we coordinate multiple Dynamic Programming policies. Our primary contribution is a method of coordinating multiple such polices such that the result is equivalent to a single optimal controller for the full system. We applied this method to a walking controller for the SARCOS hydraulic humanoid robot. The results are perhaps best illustrated by the videos below.

Videos

Simulation Videos My favorite is walk_obstacles.mp4
SARCOS Robot Walking in Place Videos
SARCOS Robot Walking Forward Videos My favorite is Fhammer.wmv

The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius

I am a contestant on The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius, a design and build competition show on Discovery Channel. Starting on May 1, 2013 and running for 8 weeks, it will be airing at 10|9c every Wednesday. You can go here for my behind-the-scenes notes or to Facebook for news and Facebooky stuff.

Publications

Eric C. Whitman and Christopher G. Atkeson. "Control of a Walking Biped Using a Combination of Simple Policies." Proc. of Humanoids 2009, Paris.
Video

Eric C. Whitman and Christopher G. Atkeson. "Control of Instantaneously Coupled Systems Applied to Humanoid Walking." Proc. of Humanoids 2010, Nashville.
Video

Eric C. Whitman and Christopher G. Atkeson. "Multiple Model Robust Dynamic Programming." Proc. of American Controls Conference 2012, Montreal.

Jiuguang Wang, Eric C. Whitman and Mike Stilman. "Whole-Body Trajectory Optimization for Humanoid Falling." Proc. of American Controls Conference 2012, Montreal.

Eric C. Whitman, Benjamin J. Stephens, and Christopher G. Atkeson. "Torso Rotation for Push Recovery Using A Simple Change of Variables." Proc. of Humanoids 2012, Osaka.

Posters

Whitman, Eric. “Optimization-Based Policy Search for Control of Periodic Systems.” Poster Presentation at Dynamic Walking 2009, Vancouver.

Whitman, Eric, and Christopher G. Atkeson. "Control of a Walking Biped Using a Combination of Simple Policies." Poster Presentation at Humanoids 2009, Paris.

Whitman, Eric. “Control of Humanoid Walking as an Instantaneously Coupled System.” Poster Presentation at Dynamic Walking 2011, Jena.

Presentations

Powerpoint presentation given at Humanoids 2010.

Code

The Dynamic Programming code that much of my research is based on is here. It includes dynamic programming code as well as a simple test programming for doing inverted pendulum swing-up.

Little Dog

I worked on generating a bounding gait for littledog. Videos are available here

Side Project

Clockwork Factory
Ultrasound Localization for Legos

Contact

Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
ewhitman@cmu.edu