Ralph L. Hollis


Research Professor 
Robotics Ph.D. Faculty 
Telephone: (412) 268-8264
Fax: (412) 268-5570
Secretary: (412) 268-3327

Research program

Dr. Hollis's current research effort focusses on three main areas, all involving the creation of innovative new hardware, software, and systems. The first area concerns distributed agent-based cooperative high-precision manipulation. The principal application is agile assembly of small high-precision electromechanical products such as computer storage devices, medical devices, communication devices, and other high-density mechatronic equipment. The goal is to revolutionize the assembly of these kinds of products by drastically reducing the time it takes to design, program, and deploy automated assembly systems, while increasing their precision by several orders of magnitude and reducing their physical size. The second area concerns human-computer interaction, especially through haptic interaction with computed or remote environments. Here a goal is to enable truly transparent and high-fidelity interaction with eventual application to medicine, computer-augmented design, and telemanipulation, including scaled manipulation of microscopic and nanoscopic objects. The third area concerns intelligent mobile robots which are dynamically stable, including both rolling and walking machines. If such robots are to operate successfully in peopled environments, they must be agile and responsive to physical interaction with humans and their surroundings.

Biographical sketch

Ralph Hollis received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from Kansas State University, Manhattan, in 1964 and 1965, and the Ph.D. degree in solid state physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1975. From 1965 to 1970, he was engaged in computer simulation of space-flight vehicles at the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation. He was a National Science Foundation / Centre Nationale de la Reserche Scientifique Exchange Scientist at the Universite de Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, for part of 1976-77. He joined IBM in 1978 at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center as a Research Staff Member, where he worked in magnetism, acoustics, and robotics. From 1986 to 1993, he was Manager of Advanced Robotics in the Manufacturing Research Department. Dr. Hollis joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 where he is Research Professor of Robotics, School of Computer Science. Dr. Hollis is a member of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of IEEE. He has served on several government panels, and the editorial boards of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering: Structures, Devices, and Systems, and the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation. At IBM, he received five Invention Achievement Awards and an Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for work in precision robotic positioning. He received the Nakamura Prize for Best Paper in IROS '01 and IROS '95, the Best Video Award in ICRA '99, and was a Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Discover Award Finalist in 2000. He is founding director of the Microdynamic Systems Laboratory where his research centers on haptics, agile precision assembly, and dynamically-stable mobile robots.

Representative publications

"Distributed coordination in modular precision assembly systems," A. A. Rizzi, J. Gowdy, and R. L. Hollis, International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 20, No. 10, October 2001, pp. 819-838.

"Simulation and experimental evaluation of complete sensor-based coverage in rectilinear environments," Z. J. Butler, A. A. Rizzi, and R. L. Hollis, Proc. Int'l. Symp. on Experimental Robotics, Honolulu, Hawaii, December 10-13, 2000.

"Lorentz magnetic levitation for haptic interaction: Device design, performance, and integration with physical simulations," P. J. Berkelman and R. L. Hollis, International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 19, No. 7, July 2000, pp. 644-667.

"WYSIWYF display: a visual/haptic interface to virtual environments," Y. Yokokohji, R. L. Hollis, and T. Kanade, Presence, Vol. 8, No. 4, August 1999, pp.412-434.

"Lorentz levitation technology: a new approach to fine motion robotics, teleoperation, haptic interfaces, and vibration isolation," R. L. Hollis and S. E. Salcudean, 6th International Symposium on Robotics Research, Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania, October 1993.

"Toward a tele-nanorobotic manipulation system with atomic scale force feedback and motion resolution," R. L. Hollis, S. Salcudean, and D. W. Abraham, Proc. 3rd. IEEE Workshop on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, Napa Valley, CA, Feb. 12-14, 1990, pp. 115-119.

Representative patents

"Field-Joinable Platen Tiles for Planar Motors," R. L. Hollis, U.S. Patent #6,545,375, issued April 8, 2003.

"Closed-loop planar linear motor with integral monolithic three-degree-of-freedom AC-magnetic position/orientation sensor,'' R. L. Hollis, Z. J. Butler, A. A. Rizzi, and A. E. Quaid, U.S. Patent #6,175,169, issued January 16, 2001.

"Input/output system for computer-user interfaces using active magnetic levitation,'' R. L. Hollis and S. E. Salcudean, U.S. Patent #5,146,566, issued September 8, 1992.

"Ultrafast electrodynamic X, Y, and theta positioning stage,'' R. L. Hollis, U. S. Patent #5,153,494, issued October 6, 1992.

"Six DOF magnetically levitated fine motion device with programmable compliance,'' R. L. Hollis, U.S. Patent #4,874,998, issued October 17, 1989.

"Electromagnetic X, Y, and Theta Positioning Stage," R. L. Hollis and B. Musits, U.S. Patent #4,514,674, issued April 30, 1985.


January 21-22: Washington,  DC
April 22-28: Int'l. Advanced Robotics Program, Moscow, Russia
May 29-30: Showcase for Commerce, Johnstown,  PA
June 6: Washington, DC 
June 30-July 10: Wichita, KS 
September 12-21:  Int'l. Conf. on Robotics and Automation,Taipei, Taiwan
October 15-16: Rennsalaer Poytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
October 27-31: International Symposium on Intelligent Robots and Systems, ROS'03, Las Vegas

January 3-11: NSF DMII Grantees Conference, San Juan, Peurto Rico
February 15: Automation Devices, Erie, PA
March 20-21: McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario
March 22-26: Haptic Symposium, Orlando, FL
May 11-16: Int'l. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Washington, DC
September 16-18: 3rd Int'l Workshop on Microfactories, Minneapolis, MN
September 18-22: Wichita, Kansas
December 29-January 6: Steamboat Springs, CO 

April 12-18: Int'l Conf. on Robotics and Automation, San Francisco, CA,
June 12: IBM Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY
June 14-July 10: Northwest United States
August 15-19: Wichita, KS
August 20-26: NTU-CMU Symposium on Advances in Robotics, Singapore
October 3: Assembly Technology Expo, Rosemont, IL
October 27-November 5: Int'l Symp. on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Maui
November 13-15: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
January 3-10: NSF DMII Grantees Conference, Vancouver, B.C. 
February 23-28: University of California, Davis 
March 16: NIST, Gaithersburg, MD 
April 25-30: ICRA 2000,  San Francisco 
May 17-20: Sciences of the Interface, Karlsruhe, Germany 
June 22-25: Christopher Columbus Fellowship Discover Awards, Orlando 
September 26-27:  Assembly Expo, Rosemont, IL 
October 7-15: Int'l Workshop on Microfactories,  Fribourg, Switzerland 
October 17-21: Korean Automatic Control Conference, Seoul,  Korea 
November 9: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 
November 11-14: Harvard, MIT, Cambridge MA 

Copyright ©2002.