Carnegie Mellon University

Ralph Hollis

Ralph L. Hollis

Courtesy Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research Professor, Robotics Institute

Address 5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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.


PhD, 1975 
University of Colorado

MS, 1965 
Kansas State University

BS, 1964 
Kansas State University


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.