Peter Whitney is an Associate Research Scientist at Disney Research. He completed his Ph.D. in 2012 under Professor Robert Wood in the Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University. His research focused on the manufacturing of millimeter-scale microrobots inspired by flying insects, developing new techniques which combine printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing methods with assembly techniques inspired by pop-up books. His research at Harvard also focused on the aerodynamics and flight performance of these tiny flapping-wing robots. He obtained both his 2004 Physics SB and his 2006 Aerospace Engineering SM from MIT.
At Disney Research he is focused on developing interactive robots, in particular robots which can operate in direct physical contact with people. A key technology he has jointly developed at Disney is a new hybrid fluid transmission, which allows robot arms to achieve a combination of high speed yet graceful motion, lightweight, and “soft” interaction capability. He has also developed a new gravity counterbalance mechanism for building robot arms that don’t have to constantly fight against gravity. This new counterbalance design is uniquely adapted to human-like robot arms.