The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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MIE Seminar Series: "Towards robotic straight razor shaving of humans"


Friday, February 5, 2021 - 10:00am


Professor Peter Whitney, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Northeastern University


Zoom and Youtube



Virtual Meeting Links

Due to the high volume of videos in this talk, it will be presented using Zoom AND YouTube simultaneously. Please be sure to open both links, and if you have any questions or issues, please email for assistance.




Safe and successful deployment of robots that directly and physically interact with humans remains a challenge.  In this talk we will investigate robotic straight razor shaving of the human face as an example of physical human-robot interaction that demands the highest mechanical responsiveness, force sensitivity, and control precision.  From the lessons in this task, we move to other (real) applications, including the development of wheelchair-mounted haptic-grade robotic manipulators for assistance with activities of daily living, remotely operated MRI-compatible surgical tools, and shared-autonomy underwater manipulators for explosives ordinance disposal (EOD).  Key research elements in support of these applications include soft-composite materials engineering and design, low-friction fluid actuators, and high dynamic range force feedback control.

Peter Whitney is an assistant professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University, engaged in research on human-safe, medical, and collaborative robot systems, through advances in mechanical design, soft-composite engineering, and multi-sensory feedback control.  He obtained his PhD in 2012 at Harvard University, working with Prof. Robert Wood on pop-up book style micro-composite MEMS fabrication and insect-scale experimental aerodynamics, and worked as a postdoc under Jessica Hodgins at Disney Research (CMU) on human-safe robot design, which culminated in the development of "Jimmy", a human-safe mechanically tele-operated robot puppet.  His research is funded by grants from NSF CHS, NSF NRI, ONR, and the ARM Institute.