Aaron M. Johnson

Aaron M. Johnson
I am a postdoctoral fellow working on many projects including physics based planning on HERB in the Personal Robotics Lab, part of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. I earned my PhD working on self-manipulation and dynamic behaviors on legged robots (among other things) in Kod*lab, part of the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Before that I was an undergraduate student researching snake robots as part of the Biorobotics Lab, also at Carnegie Mellon University.

My research aims to design intelligent interactions between a robot and its environment. Thus far robots have been most successful in highly controlled environments such as factories designed around the limitations of the robot, or for extremely simple behaviors such as vacuuming flat floors without too many obstacles. But we need robots that are capable of performing useful behaviors in real environments, like our homes and offices, that are cluttered, complex, and changing dynamically. The only way we will ever have robots that can explore the world or help us in our homes is to study this behavior interaction between the robot and the environment. Unfortunately these interactions cannot be controlled directly but rather they can be controlled only through the design of the platform, sensors, and software such that when the robot is run in a given environment, the desired behavioral interaction results.

Recent News

RSS Workshops July 16th-17th, 2015

At Robotics:Science and Systems this year I helped to organize two workshops: The first looked back at the 50th Anniversary of Shakey exploring the relationship between AI and robotics, and featuring talks by Peter Hart and Oliver Brock. The second explored Robotic Uses for Tails, where an impressive group of researchers from both biology and engineering came together to try and explore the many possible uses of appendages.

Hybrid System Paper Online May 10th, 2015

We are excited to announce that the latest version of the paper, A Hybrid Systems Model for Simple Manipulation and Self-Manipulation Systems, is now available online. In it we reconcile many common simplifying assumptions about physics that are, in general, inconsistent, and also prove several consistency properties about the resulting hybrid system.

Popular Videos

More videos

RHex the Parkour Robot

X-RHex Lite running, leaping, and doing backflips around Penn's campus, using behaviors first presented at ICRA 2013, and featured in several videos.

Full Video

Tailed Behaviors

A new tail on X-RHex Lite allows it to land on its feet. "Tail assisted dynamic self righting" was first presented at CLAWAR 2012.

Full Video

WSJ Interview


Live video interview with Aaron Johnson on the Wall Street Journal's online program, News Hub. See more press coverage and interviews about leaping behaviors.

Full Video