Red Whittaker

Interview Location: United States

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Whittaker describes his early interest in engineering and robotics. He outlines his involvement in research and development projects, such as the robotic cleanup of Three Mile Island and the DARPA challenges. Additionally, he reflects on the advancement and future potential of robotics.


Red Whittaker grew up in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. He completed his undergraduate work in civil engineering at Princeton University in 1973 and his graduate work at Carnegie Mellon University, attaining a masters and Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1975 and 1979, respectively. He then joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon, where he has been ever since. In 1983-1984, he led the team that designed and deployed a robot that played an integral part in the clean up of the failed Three Mile Island Nuclear Reactor. Whittaker’s career has contributed a number of successful developments in autonomous and teleoperated robotics and robots, especially for craft, labor, and natural and hazardous environments. Beyond participating in several research projects and challenges, such as the Google Lunar X Prize, at Carnegie Mellon he is currently Fredkin Research Professor at the Robotics Institute, Director of the Field of Robotics Center, and Chief Scientist of the Robotics Engineering Consortium.