Robert J. Wood
Robert Wood, Ph.D.
Founding Core Faculty Member
Platform Co-Lead, Bioinspired Robotics
Rob is developing biologically inspired aerial and terrestrial microrobots, soft-bodied robots, and "printable" robots. His current research interests include new micro- and meso-scale manufacturing techniques, fluid mechanics of low Reynolds number flapping wings, control of sensor-limited and computation-limited systems, active soft materials, and morphable soft-bodied robots. He leads a team of over 40 researchers on the National Science Foundation (NSF) "RoboBees" project to develop coordinated colonies of autonomous robotic bees. His group is also building agile ambulatory robots that are inspired by insects and centipedes. The long-term goal is to create a swarm of robotic insects capable of performing important tasks, such as search and rescue, hazardous environmental explorations, and pollination. Rob is collaborating with a diverse set of researchers at the Wyss who are exploring soft-bodied autonomous robots and soft devices for human-robot interaction and rehabilitation. One of these projects, called "Second Skin," is a system in which sensing, actuation, and control mechanisms are embedded in soft devices that can be worn by patients with neuromuscular disorders to help them regain function. Rob is also working on novel manufacturing processes for "printable robots" with the goal of automating robot development and creating new methods for rapid prototyping complex electromechanical devices.
Robert Wood is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, which leverages expertise in microfabrication for the development of biologically-inspired robots with feature sizes on the micrometer to centimeter scale. He is the winner of multiple awards for his work including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, Technology Review's TR35, and multiple best paper awards. In 2010 Wood received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his work in microrobotics. In 2012 he was selected for the Alan T. Waterman award, the National Science Foundation's most prestigious early career award. In 2014, Wood was named one of National Geographic's Emerging Explorers, an award that recognizes young visionaries who are inspiring people to care about our planet. Wood's group is also dedicated to STEM education by using novel robots to motivate young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.