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Christopher G. Atkeson Collection

Identifier: 2020-0005

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection consist of documentation, artifacts, completed robots, and ephemera collected by Dr. Christopher G. Atkeson throughout his career. The collection includes projects and pieces Atkeson himself worked on or used in his research, as well as items to which he has no personal connection. Some projects exist in pieces rather than as a complete artifact, such as Ivan Sutherland's early walking robot, the Trojan Cockroach, and the more recent "HERB" robotic butler produced by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Other artifacts, like the Direct Drive Arm created by Takeo Kanade and Haruhiko "Harry" Asada, appear to exist in their entirety. There are examples of prototyping practices, including from Atkeson's own work, as well as commercial robots used for research purposes. Atkeson also collected robotics ephemera and kitsch as part of his efforts to connect science fiction to real-world robotics. A sampling of the robotics collectibles is included here. Most of the materials in the collection were on display in Newell Simon Hall for several years as part of the Roboseum project.


  • ca. 1980-2015

Conditions Governing Access

Some materials in the collection have been photographed and can be viewed online. To access the collection in person, please contact the University Archives.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Christopher G. Atkeson is a professor in the School of Computer Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), with appointments in the Robotics Institute (RI) and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). Atkeson's work focuses on creating robotic systems that are capable of generating and perceiving human behavior, particularly with humanoid robots.

Atkeson earned his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986, after which he served as an associate professor there. From 1994 to 2000 he held a position at Georgia Tech, after which he joined the faculty at CMU. Throughout his tenure at CMU, Atkeson has worked on projects covering a number of topics, including soft robotics. Under his advising in this field, his then-graduate student Siddarth Sanan designed and fabricated a soft robot arm that inspired the design of the character "Baymax" in Disney's animated film Big Hero 6.

Atkeson's interests also include the history of robotics. He has during his time at CMU collected a number of robots, robotic parts, and pieces of documentation on his own projects as well as others created at the university.


25 Cubic Feet (14 boxes, 24 objects)




The Christopher G. Atkeson Collection consists of robots, robotics parts and pieces, documentation for projects and software programs, prototypes, and robotics ephemera collected by Dr. Christopher Atkeson over the course of his career. These materials document projects from his professional career across multiple institutions, historic robotics projects at Carnegie Mellon University, and popular culture portrayals of robotics.


The collection is arranged by context and topic. The materials from Chris Atkeson's professional career are presented first in Series 1 and 2, followed by the materials he personally saved as part of efforts to preserve robotics history, which are broken down into the contexts of their creation and use. Within each series, items are sorted chronologically.

Processing Information

Processed by Kathleen Donahoe

Christopher G. Atkeson Collection
Finding aid prepared by Kathleen Donahoe
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021