Aaron Ames: Towards the Humanoid Robots of Science Fiction @ B17 Hackerman Hall
Nov 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


The humanoid robot DURUS was unveiled to the public in the midst of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). While the main competition took place in the stadium, DURUS took part in the Robot Endurance Test with the goal of demonstrating locomotion that is an order of magnitude more efficient than existing bipedal walking on humanoid robots, e.g., the ATLAS robot utilized in the DRC. During this accessible public demonstration of humanoid robotic walking, DURUS walked continuously for over 2½ hours covering over 2 km—all on a single 1.1 kWh battery. At the core of this success was a methodology for designing and realizing dynamic and efficient walking gaits on bipedal robots through a mathematical framework that utilizes hybrid systems models coupled with nonlinear controllers that provably result in stable locomotion. This mathematical foundation allowed for the full utilization of novel mechanical components of DURUS, including: efficient cycloidal gearboxes (allowing for almost lossless transmission of power) and compliant elements at the ankles (absorbing the impacts at foot-strike). Through this combination of formal controller design and novel mechanical design, the humanoid robot DURUS was able to achieve the most efficient walking ever recorded on a humanoid robot. This talk will outline the key elements of the methodology used to achieve this result, demonstrate the extensibility to other bipedal robots and robotic assistive devices, e.g., prostheses, and consider the question: when will the humanoid robots of science fiction become science fact?


Speaker Bio

Aaron D. Ames joined the Georgia Institute of Technology in July 2015 as an Associate Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, he was an Associate Professor and Morris E. Foster Faculty Fellow II in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, with joint appointments in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science & Engineering. Dr. Ames received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of St. Thomas in 2001, and he received a M.A. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from UC Berkeley in 2006. He served as a Postdoctoral Scholar in Control and Dynamical Systems at the California Institute of Technology from 2006 to 2008. At UC Berkeley, he was the recipient of the 2005 Leon O. Chua Award for achievement in nonlinear science and the 2006 Bernard Friedman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics. Dr. Ames received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 for his research on bipedal robotic walking and its applications to prosthetic devices, and is the recipient of the 2015 Donald P. Eckman Award recognizing an outstanding young engineer in the field of automatic control. His lab designs, builds and tests novel bipedal robots, humanoids and prostheses with the goal of achieving human-like bipedal robotic walking and translating these capabilities to robotic assistive devices.


GSA Ice Skating Social
Jan 26 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

We are super excited for you to join us on our first LCSR social event of this spring term! We are planning to get together for an ice-skating session on Thursday January 26th @6:00 pm at the JHU ice rink, followed by an informal happy hour at the Charles Village Pub (we are not providing food or drinks this time). The ice rink on the night of the 26th is dedicated to JHU grad students, so it’s a good opportunity to mingle with peeps from other departments as well! If you are interested in joining us, please sign up on this google form – we will be taking in people on a first come first serve basis.


We currently have 27 available tickets open only to LCSR students. However, you are free to bring in extra guests by signing them up yourselves at this link (please read through JHU’s policy on bringing in non JHU affiliated guests on their website). We will be meeting up at Hackerman breezeway at 5:40pm to head together as a group because all tickets are registered under 3 of our committee members’ names. The skating session will last for 1.5 hours.



  1. Do I need to know how to skate? Nope. You are all welcome to join, no matter much or little you know about ice-skating!
  2. Do I need to bring in anything? No. Come as you are! JHU will provide skates, that’s all you’re going to need. Just wear thicker socks for added comfort/padding. But you’re welcome to bring in your own skates or protective equipment (knee/butt pads) if you wish.


Lastly, we wanted to emphasize that the aforementioned date is TENTATIVE and weather dependent. Should the clouds bless us with rain on that Thursday, we will need to postpone the event. We will send an email on Monday January 23rd to confirm the final date, but it will most likely be a Thursday or Friday either the week of January 23 or 30.


Looking forward to cruising with you soon ⛸️⛸️!

GSA: Bagel Day
Feb 6 @ 10:30 am – 1:00 pm