MMAE Seminar Series: ‘Advancing the Versatility of Legged Robots and Assistive Devices,’ Presented by Dr. Patrick Wensing

Patrick Wensing MMAE Spring 2024 Seminar Guest SpeakerThe Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering presents the Spring 2024 seminar series featuring guest speaker, Dr. Patrick Wensing, who will give a presentation on “Advancing the Versatility of Legged Robots and Assistive Devices.” This seminar will take place on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 in the auditorium (room 104) of the John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center from 3:30–4:30 p.m. This event is open to all graduate students and faculty.


Recent years have witnessed tremendous growth in the capabilities of legged robots, with quadrupeds and humanoids demonstrating athletic behaviors that even five years ago were out of reach. Likewise, actively powered lower-limb assistive devices have made great strides in their maturity, with hardware such as the Open-Source Leg broadening access for future breakthroughs.

Despite this progress, the wide variability of real-world environments and users remains a pressing challenge to practical applications. It is fundamentally impossible to train our robots in the lab for anything they may encounter in an open world! As steps toward addressing this challenge, the talk will first discuss recent work on the control of the MIT Mini Cheetah, which considers new computational methods for the robot to reason through its actions on the fly in complex environments. The second part of the talk will then present ongoing research on improving user interfaces for lower-extremity prosthetic limbs to make human/robot interaction more fluid. Collectively, this work expands the ability of these systems to tailor their motions to new environments and users, paving the way for broader adoption in the “wild.”


Patrick Wensing is the Wanzek Family Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, where he directs the Robotics, Optimization, and Assistive Mobility (ROAM) lab. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2014, and completed Postdoctoral training at MIT in 2017 where he worked on control system design for the MIT Cheetah robots. His current research focuses on aspects of dynamics, optimization, and control toward advancing the mobility of legged robots and assistive devices. Dr. Wensing received the NSF CAREER award (2020), the IROS 2023 Toshio Fukuda Young Professional Award, and has been recognized with multiple best paper awards for his work. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters and as a Co-Chair for the IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Model-Based Optimization for Robotics.