The following article 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 engineer-turned successful business leader, regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing technological inventions to market while overseeing a company. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Dr Martin Buehler, Executive R & D Imagineer, at Walt Disney Imagineering. Dr Buehler is a global expert in robot manipulation and mobile robots and has led the innovative R & D and product development for some of the world’s top robot organizations. In this interview, Dr Buehler shares some of his personal and business experiences of his 25-year journey.
Dr Buehler studied electrical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe and received the MSc and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Yale University, and after a PostDoc at MIT’s Leglab in locomotion, he became a professor at McGill University in 1991, with tenure since 1997. His research focused on dynamic grasping, direct drive motor control and legged robots. From 2003 to 2008, Dr Buehler was Director of Robotics at Boston Dynamics, and he was Director of Research at iRobot Corporation from 2008 to 2011. He served as VP and General Manager of Hospital Robots for Vecna Technologies from 2011 to 2013 and Senior Director of R & D and Director, R & D Center Munich for Covidien from 2013-2015.
Dr Buehler is best known in the academic world for his expertise in “intermittent dynamical” robotic tasks, such as dynamic manipulation and dynamically stable legged locomotion. His research led to multiple breakthroughs in legged robot projects like BigDog and RHex. In the corporate world, Buehler’s passion is to translate robotics technologies into successful product solutions. He does this by the implementation of key management strategies including Scrum and rapid and systematic experimental iteration. In addition to holding several patents, Dr Buehler is an Advisory Editorial Board member for the International Journal of Robotics Research and formerly served for ten years as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Field Robotics. Dr Buehler is a bestowed IEEE Fellow and was the recipient of the prestigious Robotics Industry Association’s 2012 Engelberger Award for Technology.
Pransky, J. (2015), "The Pransky interview: Dr Martin Buehler, Executive R & D Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering and renowned expert in advanced robotics", Industrial Robot, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 497-501. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-08-2015-0153
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