IRIM Robotics Seminar—Dan Goldman

The Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines presents “Robophysics: Physics Meets Robotics” by Dan Goldman of Georgia Tech as part of its regular robotics seminar series. The event will be held in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building, Rooms 1116-1118, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. and is open to the public.


Robots will soon move from the factory floor and into our lives (e.g., autonomous cars, package delivery drones, and search-and-rescue devices). However, compared to living systems, robot capabilities in complex environments are limited. I believe the mindset and tools of physics can help facilitate the creation of robust self-propelled autonomous systems. This “robophysics” approach – the systematic search for novel dynamics and principles in robotic systems – can aid the computer science and engineering approaches that have proven successful in less complex environments. The rapidly decreasing cost of constructing sophisticated robot models with easy access to significant computational power bodes well for such interactions. Drawing from examples in the work of my group and our collaborators, I will discuss how robophysical studies have inspired new physics questions in low dimensional dynamical systems (e.g., creation of analog quantum mechanics and gravity systems) and soft matter physics (e.g., emergent capabilities in ensembles of active “particles”). These studies have been useful to develop insight for biological locomotion in complex terrain (e.g., control targets via optimizing geometric phase) and have begun to aid engineers in the creation of devices that begin to achieve life-like locomotor abilities on and within complex environments (e.g., semi-soft myriapod robots).


Daniel I. Goldman is the Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Georgia Power Professor of Excellence. Goldman became a faculty member at Georgia Tech in 2007. He is an adjunct member of the School of Biology and is a member of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program.

Goldman's research program broadly investigates the interaction of biological and physical systems with complex materials like granular media. In particular, he integrates laboratory experiments, computer simulation, and physical and mathematical models to discover principles of movement in a diversity of animals and robots in controlled laboratory substrates.

He received his S.B. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994, and his Ph.D. in Physics, in 2002, from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied nonlinear dynamics and granular media. From 2003-2007, he completed postdoctoral work in the Department of Integrative Biology at U.C. Berkeley studying locomotion biomechanics.

Goldman is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He received an NSF CAREER/PECASE award, a DARPA Young Faculty Award, a Burroughs Welcome Fund Career Award from the Scientific Interface, and the U.T. Austin Outstanding Dissertation award in Physics.

Event Details


  • Wednesday, October 30, 2019
    12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Location: Marcus Nanotechnology Building, Rooms 1116-1118

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