Robert Griffin is a Research Scientist at IHMC, and focuses on improved mobility with legged robotic devices. He received his B.S. from Tennessee Tech, and his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2017 with a primary research focus on the control of bipedal robotic mobility for humanoids and exoskeletons. In 2016, he joined IHMC’s team for the 2016 Cybathlon, where they placed second in Powered Exoskeleton race. This project focused on using lower extremity exoskeleton devices to enable people with paralysis to complete a timed obstacle course, for which Robert functioned as the software and controls lead. He returned to IHMC full time in 2017, where he now focuses on improving mobility over complicated terrain for both humanoid robots and exoskeletons. He is particular interested in combining the use of reduced order models that approximate walking systems with optimization techniques, allowing the natural dynamics of the walking system to evolve while still performing numerically precise control. It is his hope that, by examining nature to determine the most important characteristics for control, bipedal robots will become useful enough to be used outside of the laboratory environment and in every day life.
Prior to joining IHMC, Robert was at the Virginia Tech Terrestrial Robotics, Engineering, & Controls lab (TREC) as a controls engineer for their humanoid robot projects. While there, he functioned as the controls lead for the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot program through the Office of Naval Research, where his team successfully demonstrated in 2014 the first fire suppression on a Navy ship using a humanoid robot. He was also the controls lead for Virginia Tech’s entry into the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge, where they fielded their custom humanoid robot, ESCHER. He also worked with TREC to develop a lower body exoskeleton for balance assistance in paralyzed individuals under the National Robotics Initiative (NRI). Outside of work, Robert’s hobbies include running, hiking, camping, soccer, reading, and roasting coffee beans.