Whitcomb, Louis L.

Professor & Chair
Department Of Mechanical Engineering

Hackerman Hall 115
3400 N Charles St
(410) 516-6724

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Robots fly, swim, fetch, and drive in Johns Hopkins student project demos

May 12, 2016

It took a couple tries. At one point the robotic helicopter accelerated upwards, hitting the top of the net, then crashed abruptly to the floor. But later during the robotics demonstration at Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger Hall, the small quadcopter successfully hovered over its target landing pad and settled safely. “If you never crash a […]

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  • Ph.D. 1992, Yale University
  • Other Master's Degree (M.Phil.) 1990, Yale University
  • M.S. 1988, Yale University
  • B.S. 1984, Yale University
  • 1995 - Present:  Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, Professor and Chair, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1995 - Present:  Adjunct Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Research Areas
  • Adaptive identification and control.
  • Advanced Electro-Mechanical Design.
  • Dynamics and control of nonlinear systems.
  • Force Control.
  • Industrial Robotics.
  • Medical Robotics.
  • Nonlinear control.
  • Robotics.
  • Sensor and Actuator Design.
  • Underwater Robot Vehicles.
  • 2012:  Best Student Poster Award
  • 2011:  2011 William H. Huggins Excellence in Teaching Award. One of these awards if given in recognition of outstanding teaching in the JHU Whiting School
  • 2011:  Fellow - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - for contributions to the theory and application of robotics for intervention in extreme environments
  • 2009:  Louis R. Sardella Faculty Scholar
  • 2008:  Nominated for 2008 William H. Huggins Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • 2004:  2004 University Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award - awarded in May 2004 by the JHU G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering. One of these awards is made each year by JHU's School of Engineering.
  • 2003:  IMarEST Prize for Best Paper by an Author Under 30 awarded to Ph.D. student James C. Kinsey at the 2003 IFAC Workshop on Guidance and Control of Underwater Vehicles - Newport - South Wales - April 2003. http://robotics.me.jhu.edu/~llw/ps/IFAC_prize_2003.j
  • 2002:  George E. Owen Teaching Award - awarded in May 2002 by the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2002. One of two awarded each year by the JHU undergraduate Senior Class.
  • 2002:  Senior Member - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • 2001:  Johns Hopkins University Student Council Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2000:  Best Student Paper Award awarded to Whitcomb’s Ph.D. student David Smallwood at the 11th International Symposium on Unmanned Untethered Submersible Technology - August 2000.
  • 2000:  Ph.D. student Jaydeep Roy selected as finalist for the Best Student Paper Award at the 2000 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - April 2000.
  • 1997:  Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award
  • 1996:  National Science Foundation Career Award
  • 1993:  JSPS Post Doctoral Fellowship - awarded by the Japanese government and in cooperation with the U.S. National Science Foundation
  • 1992:  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Post Doctoral Scholarship
  • 1986:  Yale University Research Associate Fellowship for graduate research and teaching
  • 1984:  Master's Cup Award - Timothy Dwight College - Yale University
  • "Navigation and Control of Robotics in Extreme Environments", DESCEND-2 Workshop - Developing Submergence Science for the Next Decade.  Boston, MA USA.  December 14, 2015
  • "Nereid Under-Ice: A Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle for Oceanographic Access Under Ice", Weekly Seminar Series, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware.  Newark, Delaware, USA.  December 4, 2015
  • "Nereid Under-Ice: A Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle for Oceanographic Access Under Ice", MIT Robotics Seminar Series.  Boaton, MA USA.  December 1, 2015
  • "Preliminary Feasibility Study of Cooperative Navigation of Underwater Vehicles with Range and Range-Rate Observations", IEEE/MTS Oceans 2015 Conference.  IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society and the Marine Technology Society.  October 19, 2015
  • "Preliminary Results with a Low-Cost Fiber-Optic Gyrocompass System", IEEE/MTS Oceans 2015 Conference.  Washington, DC USA.  October 19, 2015
  • "Preliminary study of virtual nonholonomic constraints for time-delayed teleoperation", 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).  Hamburg, Germany.  September 28, 2015
  • "Experimental Evaluation of Adaptive Model-Based Control for Underwater Vehicles In the Presence of Unmodeled Actuator Dynamics", 17th Yale Workshop on Adaptive and Learning Systems..  New Haven, CT USA.  June 24, 2015
  • "Experimental evaluation of force control for virtual-fixture-assisted teleoperation for on-orbit manipulation of satellite thermal blanket insulation",  2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) .  Seattle, WA USA.  May 26, 2015
  • "Toward Ice-Relative Navigation of Underwater Robotic Vehicles Under Moving Sea Ice: Experimental Evaluation in the Arctic Sea",  2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) .  Seattle, WA USA.  May 26, 2015
  • "Nereid Under-Ice: A Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle for Oceanographic Access Under Ice", Northrop Grummand Corporation - Undersea Systems Division Special Seminar.  Northrop Grummand Corporation - Undersea Systems, Annapolis MD USA.  February 23, 2015
  • "Nereid Under-Ice: A Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle for Oceanographic Access Under Ice", Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Weekly Seminar.  Monterey CA USA.  January 14, 2015


Journal Articles
  • Troni, G., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Advances in In Situ Alignment Calibration of Doppler and High/Low-end Attitude Sensors for Underwater Vehicle Navigation: Theory and Experimental Evaluation.  Journal of Field Robotics.  32(5).  655-674.
  • Martin, S. C., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Fully actuated model-based control with six-degree-of-freedom coupled dynamical plant models for underwater vehicles: Theory and experimental evaluation (In Press).  International Journal of Robotics Research.
  • Katlein, C., Arndt, S., Nicolaus, M., Perovich, D. K., Jakuba, M. V., Suman, S., Elliott, S., Whitcomb, L., McFarland, C. J., Gerdes, R., others. (2015).  Influence of ice thickness and surface properties on light transmission through Arctic sea ice.  Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.  120(9).  5932–5944.
  • Troni, G., Whitcomb, L. (2014).  Advances in In Situ Alignment Calibration of Doppler and High/Low-end Attitude Sensors for Underwater Vehicle Navigation: Theory and Experimental Evaluation.  J. Field Robotics.
  • Martin, S. C., Whitcomb, L. (2014).  Experimental Identification of Six-Degree-of-Freedom Coupled Dynamic Plant Models for Underwater Robot Vehicles.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  39(4).  662–671.
  • Blank, A. A., Okamura, A. M., Whitcomb, L. (2014).  Task-dependent impedance and implications for upper-limb prosthesis control.  Intl. J. Robotics Research.  33(6).  827–846.
  • Xu, H., Lasso, A., Guion, P., Krieger, A., Kaushal, A., Singh, A. K., Pinto, P. A., Coleman, J., Grubb, III, R. L., Lattouf, J., Ménard, C., Whitcomb, L., Fichtinger, G. (2013).  Accuracy analysis in MRI-guided robotic prostate biopsy.  International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery.  8(6).  937–944.
  • Webster, S. E., Walls, J. M., Whitcomb, L., Eustice, R. M. (2013).  Decentralized Extended Information Filter for Single-Beacon Cooperative Acoustic Navigation: Theory and Experiments.  IEEE Trans. Robot..  29(4).  957–974.
  • Krieger, A., Song, S., Cho, N. B., Iordachita, I., Guion, P., Fichtinger, G., Whitcomb, L. (2013).  Development and Evaluation of an Actuated MRI-Compatible Robotic System for MRI-Guided Prostate Intervention.  IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng..  18(1).  273–284.
  • Camilli, R., Di Iorio, D., Bowen, A., Reddy, C. M., Techet, A. H., Yoerger, D. R., Whitcomb, L., Seewald, J. S., Sylva, S. P., Fenwick, J. (2012).  Acoustic measurement of the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well flow rate.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  109(50).  20235–20239.
  • Webster, S. E., Eustice, R. M., Singh, H., Whitcomb, L. L. (2012).  Advances in Single-Beacon One-Way-Travel-Time Acoustic Navigation for Underwater Vehicles.  Intl. J. Robotics Research.   31 ( 8 ).   935–950 .
  • Song, S., Cho, N., Iordachita, I., Guion, P., Fichtinger, G., Kaushal, A., Camphausen, K., Whitcomb, L. (2012).  Biopsy Needle Artifact Localization in MRI-Guided Robotic Transrectal Prostate Intervention.  IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng..  59(7).  1902–1911.
  • Kanderian, S. S., deLateur, B. J., Shore, W. S., Rose, J. G., Carson, K. A., Whitcomb, L. (2011).  A portable device for quantification of forearm muscle tone.  Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  3(11).  1075–1076.
  • Krieger, A., Iordachita, I., Guion, P., Singh, A. K., Kaushal, A., Ménard, C., Pinto, P. A., Camphausen, K., Fichtinger, G., Whitcomb, L. (2011).  An MRI-Compatible Robotic System With Hybrid Tracking for MRI-Guided Prostate Intervention.  IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng..  58(11).  3049–3060.
  • Eustice, R. M., Singh, H., Whitcomb, L. (2011).  Synchronous-clock, one-way-travel-time acoustic navigation for underwater vehicles.  J. Field Robotics.  28(1).  121–136.
  • German, C. R., Bowen, A., Coleman, M. L., Honig, D., Huber, J. A., Jakuba, M. i., Kinsey, J. C., Kurz, M. D., Leroy, S., McDermott, J. M., de Lépinay, B. M., Nakamura, K., Seewald, J. S., Smith, J. L., Sylva, S. P., Van Dover, C., Whitcomb, L., Yoerger, D. R. (2010).  Diverse styles of submarine venting on the ultraslow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  107(32).  14020–14025.
  • Fletcher, B., Bowen, A., Yoerger, D. R., Whitcomb, L. (2009).  Journey to the Challenger Deep: 50 years later with the Nereus hybrid remotely operated vehicle.  Marine Tech. Soc. Jour..  43(5).  65–76.
  • Bowen, A. D., Yoerger, D. R., Taylor, C., McCabe, R. D., Howland, J. C., Gomez-Ibanez, D., Kinsey, J. C., Heintz, M., McDonald, G., Peters, D., Young, C., Buescher, J., Fletcher, B., Whitcomb, L., Martin, S. C., Webster, S. E., Jakuba, M. V. (2009).  The Nereus hybrid underwater robotic vehicle.  Underwater Technology: International Journal of the Society for Underwater Technology.  28(3).  79–89.
  • Hager, G., Okamura, A. M., Kazanzides, P., Whitcomb, L., Fichtinger, G., Taylor, R. (2008).  Surgical and interventional robotics: Part III: Surgical Assistance Systems.  IEEE Robot. Automat. Mag..  15(4).  84–93.
  • Fichtinger, G., Kazanzides, P., Okamura, A. M., Hager, G., Whitcomb, L., Taylor, R. (2008).  Surgical and Interventional Robotics: Part II: Surgical CAD-CAM systems.  IEEE Robot. Automat. Mag..  15(3).  94–102.
  • Kazanzides, P., Fichtinger, G., Hager, G., Okamura, A. M., Whitcomb, L., Taylor, R. (2008).  Surgical and Interventional Robotics: Part I: Core concepts, technology, and design.  IEEE Robot. Automat. Mag..  15(2).  122–130.
  • Ferrini, V. L., Fornari, D. J., Shank, T. M., Kinsey, J. C., Soule, S. A., Carbotte, S. M., Tivey, M. A., Whitcomb, L., Yoerger, D. R., Howland, J. C. (2007).  Geochemisty, Geophysics, Geosystems.  8.
  • Kinsey, J. C., Whitcomb, L. (2007).  In Situ Alignment Calibration of Attitude and Doppler Sensors for Precision Underwater Vehicle Navigation: Theory and Experiment.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  32(2).  286–299.
  • Kinsey, J. C., Whitcomb, L. (2007).  Adaptive Identification on the Group of Rigid Body Rotations and its Application to Precision Underwater Robot Navigation.  IEEE Trans. Robot..  23(1).  124–136.
  • Chowning, S. L., Susil, R. C., Krieger, A., Fichtinger, G., Whitcomb, L., Atalar, E. (2006).  A preliminary analysis and model of prostate injection distributions.  The Prostate.  66(4).  344–357.
  • Fichtinger, G., Burdette, E. C., Tanacs, A., Patriciu, A., Mazilu, D., Whitcomb, L., Stoianovici, D. (2006).  Robotically assisted prostate brachytherapy with transrectal ultrasound guidance—Phantom experiments.  Brachytherapy.  5(1).  14–26.
  • Susil, R. C., Ménard, C., Krieger, A., Coleman, J. A., Camphausen, K., Choyke, P., Fichtinger, G., Whitcomb, L., Coleman, C. N., Atalar, E. (2006).  Transrectal prostate biopsy and fiducial marker placement in a standard 1.5 T magnetic resonance imaging scanner.  The Journal of urology.  175(1).  113–120.
  • Ménard, C., Susil, R. C., Choyke, P., Coleman, J., Grubb, R., Gharib, A., Krieger, A., Guion, P., Thomasson, D., Ullman, K., Gupta, S., Espina, V., Liotta, L., Petricoin, E., Whitcomb, L., Fitchtinger, G., Atalar, E., Coleman, C. N., Camphausen, K. (2005).  An Interventional MRI Technique for the Molecular Characterization of Intra-Prostatic Dynamic Contrast Enhancement.  Molecular Imaging.  4(1).  3–66.
  • Krieger, A., Susil, R. C., Ménard, C., Coleman, J. A., Fichtinger, G., Atalar, E., Whitcomb, L. (2005).  Design of a novel MRI compatible manipulator for image guided prostate interventions.  IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng..  52(2).  306–313.
  • Bowen, A. D., Yoerger, D. R., Whitcomb, L., Fornari, D. J. (2004).  Exploring the Deepest Depths: Preliminary Design of a Novel Light-Tethered Hybrid ROV for Global Science in Extreme Environments.  Marine Tech. Soc. Jour..  38(2).  92–101.
  • Smallwood, D. A., Whitcomb, L. (2004).  Model-Based Dynamic Positioning of Underwater Robotic Vehicles: Theory and Experiment.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..   29( 1).  169–186.
  • Kinsey, J. C., Whitcomb, L. (2004).  Preliminary field experience with the DVLNAV integrated navigation system for oceanographic submersibles.  Control Engineering Practice.  12(12).  1541–1549.
  • Roy, J., Goldberg, R. P., Whitcomb, L. (2004).  Structural design, analysis, and performance evaluation of a new semi-direct drive robot arm: Theory and experiment.  IEEE ASME Trans. Mechatron..  9(1).  10–19.
  • Berkelman, P. J., Whitcomb, L., Taylor, R., Jensen, P. (2003).  A miniature microsurgical instrument tip force sensor for enhanced force feedback during robot-assisted manipulation.  IEEE Trans. Robot. Autom..  19(5).  917–921.
  • Smallwood, D. A., Whitcomb, L. (2003).  Adaptive identification of dynamically positioned underwater robotic vehicles.  IEEE Trans. Contr. Syst. Technol..  11(4).  505–515.
  • Bachmayer, R., Whitcomb, L. (2003).  Adaptive parameter identification of an accurate nonlinear dynamical model for marine thrusters.  ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control.   125( 3).  491–494.
  • Susil, R. C., Krieger, A., Tanacs, A., Whitcomb, L., Atalar, E. (2003).  Prostate biopsy and local therapy inside conventional closed MRI with robotic assistance-animal studies.  Academic Radiology.  10(8).  955.
  • Susil, R. C., Krieger, A., Derbyshire, J. A., Tanacs, A., Whitcomb, L., Fichtinger, G., Atalar, E. (2003).  System for MR Image–guided Prostate Interventions: Canine Study 1.  Radiology.  228(3).  886–894.
  • Rothbaum, D. L., Roy, J., Hager, G., Taylor, R., Whitcomb, L., Francis, H. W., Niparko, J. K. (2003).  Task performance in stapedotomy: Comparison between surgeons of different experience levels.  Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.  128(1).  71–77.
  • Rothbaum, D. L., Roy, J., Stoianovici, D., Berkelman, P., Hager, G., Taylor, R., Whitcomb, L., Francis, H. W., Niparko, J. K. (2002).  Robot-assisted stapedotomy: Micropick fenestration of the stapes footplate.  Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.  127(5).  417–426.
  • Ballard, R. D., Stager, L. E., Master, D., Yoerger, D. R., Mindell, D., Whitcomb, L., Singh, H., Piechota, D. (2002).  Iron Age Shipwrecks in Deep Water off Ashkelon, Israel.  American Journal of Archaeology: The Journal of the Archaeological Institute of America.  106(2).  151–168.
  • Roy, J., Whitcomb, L. (2002).  Adaptive force control of position/velocity controlled robots: Theory and Experiment.  IEEE Trans. Robot. Autom..  17(2).
  • Bachmayer, R., Whitcomb, L., Grosenbaugh, M. A. (2000).  Accurate four-quadrant nonlinear dynamical model for marine thrusters: Theory and experimental validation.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  25( 1).  146–159.
  • Ballard, R. D., McCann, A. M., Yoerger, D. R., Whitcomb, L., Mindell, D. A., Oleson, J., Singh, H., Foley, B., Adams, J., Picheota, D. (2000).  The discovery of ancient history in the deep sea using advanced deep submergence technology.  Deep Sea Research Part 1.  47(9).  1591–1620.
  • Singh, H., Whitcomb, L., Yoergar, D., Pizarro, O. (2000).  Microbathymetric Mapping from Underwater Vehicles in the Deep Ocean.  Computer Vision and Image Understanding.  79(1).  143-161.
  • Taylor, R., Jensen, P., Whitcomb, L., Barnes, A., Kumar, R., Stoianovici, D., Gupta, P., Wang, Z., Dejuan, E., Kavoussi, L. (1999).  A steady-hand robotic system for microsurgical augmentation.  Intl. J. Robotics Research.  18(12).  1201–1210.
  • Whitcomb, L., Yoerger, D. R. (1999).  Development, Comparison, and Preliminary Experimental Validation of Non-Linear Dynamic Thruster Models.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  24(4).  481–494.
  • Whitcomb, L., Yoerger, D. R. (1999).  Preliminary Experiments in Model-Based Thruster Control for Underwater Vehicle Positioning.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  24(4).  494–506.
  • Roy, J., Whitcomb, L. (1999).  Comparative structural analysis of 2-DOF semi-direct-drive linkages for robot arms.  IEEE ASME Trans. Mechatron..  4(1).  82–86.
  • Bachmayer, R., Humphris, S., Fornari, D., Van Dover, C., Howland, J., Bowen, A., Elder, R., Crook, T., Gleason, D., Sellers, W., Lerner, S. (1998).  Marine Tech. Soc. Jour..  32(3).  37–47.
  • Nakamura, M., Bachmayer, R., Whitcomb, L., Grosenbaugh, M. (1998).  Control of Marine Thruster.  Trans. of the West-Japan Soc. of Naval Arch..  96.  93–109.
  • Sayers, C. P., Paul, R. P., Catipovic, J., Whitcomb, L., Yoerger, D. (1998).  Teleprogramming for Subsea Teleoperation using Acoustic Communication.  IEEE J. Oceanic Eng..  23(1).  60–71.
  • Whitcomb, L., Arimoto, S., Naniwa, T., Ozaki, F. (1997).  Adaptive Model-Based Hybrid Control of Geometrically Constrained Robot Arms..  IEEE Trans. Robot. Autom..  13(1).  105-116.
  • Whitcomb, L., Arimoto, S., Naniwa, T., Ozaki, F. (1996).  Experiments in Adaptive Model-Based Robot Force Control.  IEEE Control Syst. Mag..  16(1).  49-57.
  • Naniwa, T., Arimoto, S., Whitcomb, L., Liu, Y. (1995).  Model-Based Adaptive Control for Geometrically Constrained Manipulators.  Trans. of the Soc. of Inst. and Cont. Eng..  31(1).  22–30.
  • Whitcomb, L., Rizzi, A. A., Koditschek, D. E. (1993).  Comparative experiments with a new adaptive controller for robot arms.  IEEE Trans. Robot. Autom..  9(1).  59–70.
  • Rizzi, A. A., Whitcomb, L., Koditschek, D. E. (1992).  Distributed Real-Time Control of a Spatial Robot Juggler.  IEEE Computer.  25(5).  12–24.
  • Levin, F., Bühler, M., Whitcomb, L., Koditschek, D. E. (1989).  Transputer Computer Juggles Real-Time Robotics.  Elec. Sys. Design.  19(2).  77–82.
Book Chapters
  • Roy, J., Rothbaum, D. L., Whitcomb, L. (2006).  Haptic feedback enhancement through adaptive force scaling: Theory and experiment.  Advances in Robot Control: From Everyday Physics to Human-Like Movements.  Springer-Verlag.  293–316.
  • Martin, S. C., Whitcomb, L., Arsenault, R., Plumlee, M., Ware, C. (2005).  Advances in Real-Time Spatio-Temporal 3-D Data Visualization for Underwater Robotic Exploration. .  Advances in Unmanned Marine Vehicles.  IEE Press.  293–310.
Conference Proceedings
  • Vozar, S., Leonard, S., Kazanzides, P., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Experimental evaluation of force control for virtual-fixture-assisted teleoperation for on-orbit manipulation of satellite thermal blanket insulation.  Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on.  4424–4431.
  • Harris, Z. J., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Preliminary feasibility study of cooperative navigation of underwater vehicles with range and range-rate observations.  OCEANS’15 MTS/IEEE Washington.  1–6.
  • Spielvogel, A. R., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Preliminary results with a low-cost fiber-optic gyrocompass system.  OCEANS’15 MTS/IEEE Washington.  1–5.
  • Vozar, S., Chen, Z., Kazanzides, P., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Preliminary study of virtual nonholonomic constraints for time-delayed teleoperation.  Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on.  4244–4250.
  • McFarland, C. J., Jakuba, M. V., Suman, S., Kinsey, J. C., Whitcomb, L. (2015).  Toward ice-relative navigation of underwater robotic vehicles under moving sea ice: Experimental evaluation in the Arctic sea.  Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on.  1527–1534.
  • Fernández-Méndez, M., Laney, S. R., Katlein, C., Whitcomb, L., Elliott, S., Jakuba, M. V., Boetius, A., German, C. R. (2015).  Monitoring under ice phyto- and zooplankton blooms with the Nereid Under Ice remotely operated vehicle.  Gordon Research Conference on Polar Marine Science.
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