Ralph Hollis

Interview Location: United States

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Hollis reflects on his early interest in robotics and his contributions to the field. Outlining the accomplishments throughout his career, he recounts the development of various robot projects, such as the Alpha- and Beta-Newt robot and Minifactory, and robotic technologies, especially haptics and precision systems. Additionally, he provides advice to young people interested in a career in the field of robotics.


Ralph Hollis was born in 1941 in Hutchinson, Kansas. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Colorado. He then joined IBM Research, where he spent most of his time in Robotics Research. In the early 1990s, he moved to Carnegie Mellon University, where he continues to be today. Over the years he has been involved in a range of robotics activities.; most notably the alpha- and beta-prototype magnetic levitation interfaces. His research has centered on haptics, agile precision assembly, and dynamically-stable mobile robots. Hollis also started a company, Butterfly Haptics, LLC to exploit some of his ideas.