The nationâ€™s most prestigious organization of engineering experts today announced the election of Dr. William â€œRedâ€ Whittaker to its ranks. The National Academy of Engineering honored Dr. Whittaker, the chairman and chief technical officer of Astrobotic Technology Inc., for â€œpioneering contributions to fielded, mobile, autonomous robots.â€
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C., provide impartial review and advice on important issues to Congress and the Administration.
Dr. Whittaker is founder of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University and is directing the development of Astroboticâ€™s first lunar robot, which has been undergoing field trials for several months. The companyâ€™s first mission, to win the $20 million Google Lunar X prize and visit the Apollo 11 landing site with HD video, is set for December 2010.
Astrobotic is collaborating with Carnegie Mellonâ€™s Robotics Institute, which is adapting many of its existing robotic vision, navigation and locomotion technologies to the lunar challenge.
Among the other 64 experts announced today as new members of the Academy was Sergey Brin, president of technology at Google Inc.
Dr. Whittaker is known widely for his role in designing a driverless SUV that bested 35 other teams in winning the 2007 Urban Challenge $2 million prize in 2007, a contest sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
About Astrobotic Technology
The company was formed in fall 2007 and has secured lunar contracts from NASA and two commercial firms. Prototype rovers are now being field-tested at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. William â€œRedâ€ Whittaker, the firmâ€™s chairman. Prototype landing platforms have been constructed by Raytheon Co., using the companyâ€™s proven digital terrain matching technologies to achieve precision landings on the Moon. More information is available at www.astrobotictech.com.
About Carnegie Mellonâ€™s Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pa. Its Robotics Institute, a division of the School of Computer Science, is one of the worldâ€™s largest robotics research and education institutions, with pioneering programs in field robotics, autonomous navigation and computer vision. The most recent of its many NASA-sponsored projects is a prototype lunar prospecting robot. Its teams have been successful in competitive robot contests, including the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. For more, see www.ri.cmu.edu.