Christopher G. Atkeson

Recent paper on optimizing exoskeleton assistance for individual users:

Human-in-the-loop optimization of exoskeleton assistance during walking, Zhang, J., Fiers, P., Witte, K. A., Jackson, R. W., Poggensee, K. L., Atkeson, C. G., Collins, S. H., Science, 356:1280-1284, 2017. Paper, code, videos, and photos here.

Recent talk (my "Don't build a robot" talk): The Future Of Health Care

Recent talk: Is (Deep) Reinforcement Learning Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

Recent talk: Muscle: Two Actuators In One

Recent talk: What's Next For Humanoid Robotics?

Recent talk at Dynamic Walking 2016: Dynamic Walking 10 Years In: Time For A Name Change

We are trying to found a robot museum

Why Build A Personal Health Care Companion?

Baymax and Big Hero 6

Soft Robotics

DARPA Robotics Challenge

An analysis of what happened at the DRC finals.

Cognitive Capture

Looking For Graduate Students

Here is a recent talk that talks about my interests.

Potential PhD students need to be admitted to a CMU PhD program before I can take them on as students. Most of my students are in the Robotics Institute PhD Program. Don't send me email asking if I will accept you to a PhD program. Admissions is handled by an admissions committee, over which I have no influence. I can only consider students who have already been admitted to a PhD program.

Research Interests

My life goal is to fulfill the science fiction vision of machines that achieve human levels of competence in perceiving, thinking, and acting. A more narrow technical goal is to understand how to get machines to generate and perceive human behavior. I use two complementary approaches, exploring humanoid robotics and human aware environments. Building humanoid robots tests our understanding of how to generate human-like behavior, and exposes the gaps and failures in current approaches. Building human aware environments (environments that perceive human activity and estimate human internal state) pushes the development of machine perception of humans. In addition to being socially useful, building human aware environments helps us develop humanoid robots that are capable of understanding and interacting with humans.

Machine learning underlies much of my work in both humanoid robotics and human aware environments. I am an experimentalist in the field of robot learning, specializing in the learning of challenging dynamic tasks such as juggling. I combine designing learning algorithms with exploring their behavior in implementations on actual robots and in intelligent environments. My research interests include nonparametric learning, memory-based learning, reinforcement learning, learning from demonstration, and modeling human behavior.

Please also take a look at the home pages of my colleagues:

Humanoid Robotics, Stefan Schaal , and the Computational Neuroscience Laboratories at ATR.

Human Aware Environments:
NSF Engineering Research Center on Quality of Life Technology.


I am a Professor in the Robotics Institute and Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU. I received the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics (Computer Science) from Harvard University and the Ph.D. degree in Brain and Cognitive Science from M.I.T. I joined the M.I.T. faculty in 1986, moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing in 1994, and moved to CMU in 2000. I have received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Teaching Award from the MIT Graduate Student Council.





cga at cmu dot edu
NSH A527
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge