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The Pransky interview: Dr Howie Choset, CTO, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute; Professor, Carnegie Mellon; snake robotics inventor and entrepreneur

Joanne Pransky (Robotic Psychiatrist, Sonoma County, California, USA)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 21 August 2017




The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry PhD-turned-entrepreneur regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The interviewee is Dr Howie Choset, Chief Technical Officer at the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Motivated by applications in confined spaces, Dr Choset created a comprehensive program in modular, high degree(s) of freedom (DOF) and multirobot systems. This research led Dr Choset to cofound three companies. In this interview, Dr Choset shares some of his personal and business experiences of working in academia and industry.


Dr Choset received his Bachelor of Science, Engineering (BSE) degree in computer science and his Bachelor of Science, Economics (BSEcon) degree in business from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. Dr Choset received his Masters and PhD from Caltech in mechanical engineering and robotics in 1991 and 1996. Since 1996, Dr Choset has been a Professor of Robotics at CMU and Director of the CMU Biorobotics Lab. He is also the Director of CMU’s undergraduate major and minor of Robotics. Along with his students, Choset formed several companies including Medrobotics (2005) for surgical systems; Hebi Robotics (2014) for modular robots; and Bito Robotics (2017) for autonomous guided vehicles. In 2017, Choset co-led the formation of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, which is a $250m national institute advancing both technology development and education for robotics in manufacturing. Choset is a founding editor of the journal Science Robotics and is currently serving on the editorial board of International Journal Robotics Research.


Motivated by collaborating with his students and colleagues, Dr Choset continues to make fundamental contributions in design, motion planning, path planning and estimation with the goal of bringing the precision of computer science and applied mathematics to the realities and uncertainties of mechanical systems. Choset’s work has been supported by both industry and government. Medrobotics Corp., a medical robotics company based on Choset’s snake robots, has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory clearance for both colorectal and otolaryngology procedures in the USA.



Pransky, J. (2017), "The Pransky interview: Dr Howie Choset, CTO, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute; Professor, Carnegie Mellon; snake robotics inventor and entrepreneur", Industrial Robot, Vol. 44 No. 5, pp. 571-574.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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