I am currently a researcher at the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, where I work at the intersection of motion planning, control theory, and machine learning to enable robots to expand their physical and cognitive capabilities in taking on challenging and dynamic tasks.
Prior to BDAII (bee-day? bee-dye? bee-day-ee? anyways), I spent some years thinking about how to make cars drive themselves - with work spanning the full decision-making stack for autonomy, ranging from prediction, behavior planning, motion planning, controls, to firmware. Most recently, I was the Director of Engineering at Optimus Ride, whose death by acquisition in 2022 entailed transferring the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus (sp?). Further back, I was the cofounder and CTO of Mach Five (where I learned that HBO's Silicon Valley is actually a documentary) and was an early member of Apple's Special Project Group (where, let's say, I worked on the next generation iTunes Terms and Conditions). I can neither confirm nor deny that I sat next to the notorious Apple question mark guy for a couple of years.
I received my PhD in Robotics from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where I was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Inspired by the 40 previous NSFGRF Fellows who later became Nobel laureates, I took my small step by winning first place at a CMU baking contest with my entry of lemon bars and received a monogrammed stuffed lemon square as a prize. During my time at CMU, my thesis was advised by Chris Atkeson, and my research focused on motion planning and control theory as applied to humanoid robots, particularly in the areas of whole-body manipulation and bipedal locomotion. Among other things, I was (in)famous for having the email address email@example.com - passed down from the late Mike Stilman.
Even further back in my academic life, I received dual-BS degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology when I was 19 years old, back when university administrators had better tastes in logos. As an undergraduate at the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, I worked on a variety of research projects, such as decentralized multi-robot networks, autonomous driving for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, and a crazy wheeled humanoid robot named Golem Krang. My research was jointly advised by (in the order of appearance) Magnus Egerstedt, Ayanna Howard, and Mike Stilman. I hold Tri-MS degrees in Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Robotics from GT and CMU, which in total, makes me an aggrieved 6x victim of diploma frame prices at the university bookstores (still not as bad as Mr. Gotta Catch'em All). In my spare time, I've planned a New Frontiers-class mission at the Jet Propulsion Lab to probe small bodies in our solar system and contributed over 100 articles to Wikipedia in robotics. I have an Erdős number of 4.
I am an accomplished landscape photographer. From 2009-2013, I spent over 200 days traveling in Europe and photographed historical monuments in more than 130 cities. From the graves of kings at Westminster to the footsteps of Casanova down the Grand Canal, Europe is my raison d'être. In 2012, my photo of the Zaragoza Cathedral took 7th place in the WLM photography competition, which at the time broke the Guinness World Records as the largest photography competition ever held in history with over 350,000 submissions. Not too bad for a roboticist. My work has been exhibited in the Netherlands, Russia, Panama, Britain, Sweden, Spain, Philippines, Hong Kong, and Germany, as well as appeared in publications such as National Geographic Russia, Popular Mechanics, Nature, and Bloomberg. Most of my photographs are freely available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use.
I grew up near the ancient walls of Khanbaliq, built in the 13th century by Kublai Khan, forming the earliest layout of the city currently known as Beijing. According to a recent DNA test, my paternal haplogroup, C-M217, makes me a direct patrilineal descendant of Genghis Khan(along with 35 million cousins). In my formative years, I wrote poems in the Tang Dynasty style of Jueju and collected recordings by Wilhelm Furtwängler. Independent of my scientific pursuits, I remain a devoted humanist and have broad interests in the study of the arts, particularly in classical European paintings, sculptures, and musicology. I enjoy reading literary works from the Western Canon, especially versed dramas and narrative poems. Works by Wagner, Shakespeare, and the pre-Raphaelites are among my favorite things in life.
In robotics and autonomous driving,
My mind doth toil and strive for great success,
A PhD in hand, with knowledge now endowing
My work with weight and merit, none can assess.
But in my leisure, photography doth call,
With Europe as my muse, in every city
I capture history, monuments tall,
And in my lens, immortalized they be.
Poetry too, doth hold my heart and pen,
With Shakespeare's verse, my guide and inspiration,
And in my free time, I admire the Pre-Raphaelites,
Operas of grandeur, that fill my sensation.
Thus in my work and play, I strive to blend
The art and science, till the very end.
If you are dazzled enough by this whirlwind introduction and think we might have an interesting discussion on any aspects of life, including mundane topics such as job opportunities in my team, feel free to contact me. Let's talk. If you decide to email me, do use the subject "π/2" to avoid my spam filter.