John “Peter” Whitney

Assistant Professor,  Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Social Media


  • 519 ISEC
  • 617.373.3427


  • 560B ISEC

Research Focus

Human-safe robots, medical robotics, soft robotics and soft material manufacturing, MEMS, microrobotics, bio-inspired design, flapping aerodynamics and insect flight


Joins the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering department in January 2016.


  • PhD Engineering Sciences, Harvard University, 2012
  • SM Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT, 2006

Honors & Awards

  • Best paper award finalist, International Conference on Robotics and Automation

Research Overview

Human-safe robots, medical robotics, soft robotics and soft material manufacturing, MEMS, microrobotics, bio-inspired design, flapping aerodynamics and insect flight

Selected Research Projects

  • NRI: FND: Controllable Compliance: A New Robotic Arm for Contact-Rich Manipulation
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation
  • Remote-Direct-Drive Haptic Manipulators for Learning Augmented Explosive Ordinance Disposal In Unstable and Visually-Denied Environments
    • – Principal Investigator, Office of Naval Research
  • CHS: Small: Collaborative: Teleoperation with Passive, Transparent Force Feedback for MR-Guided Interventions
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation

Research Centers and Institutes

Department Research Areas

Selected Publications

  • E. Schwarm, K. Gravesmill, J.P. Whitney, A Floating-Piston Hydrostatic Linear Actuator and Remote-Direct-Drive 2-DOF Gripper, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2019
  • E. Mendoza, J.P. Whitney, A Testbed for Haptic and Magnetic Resonance Imaging- Guided Percutaneous Needle Biopsy, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 4(4), 2019, 3177-3183
  • N. Burkhard, S. Frishman, A. Gruebele, J.P. Whitney, R. Goldman, B.L. Daniel, M.R. Cutkosky, A Rolling-Diaphragm Hydrostatic Transmission for Remote MR-Guided Needle Insertion, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2017
  • J.P. Whitney, T. Chen, J. Mars, J.K. Hodgins, A Hybrid Hydrostatic Transmission and Human- Safe Haptic Telepresence Robot, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2016
  • N.O. Perez-Arancibia, J.P. Whitney, R.J. Wood, Lift Force Control of Flapping-Wing Microrobots Using Adaptive Feedforward Cancellation Schemes, IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics, 18, 2013, 1-14
  • P.S. Sreetharan, H. Tanaka, J.P. Whitney, et al., Progress on “Pico” Air Vehicles, International Journal of Robotics Research, 31(11), 2012, 1292-1302

Student Groups

Nov 08, 2022

Northeastern Robotics Team Wins $1M for Third-place Finish in Global Competition

Team Northeastern won $1 million in third place among 17 finalists from around the globe in the ANA Avatar XPrize robotics competition.

Student Groups

Jun 09, 2022

Rover Team Competes at Global Challenge

The Northeastern Mars Rover Team, advised by MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney, competed last week at the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge with their robot named Watney Mark 3.0. From concrete to Martian dust, students prepare a rover for the upcoming global University Rover Challenge In recent weeks, those walking around Northeastern University’s Boston campus […]


Apr 28, 2022

FY23 TIER 1 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 15 COE faculty and affiliates who were recipients of FY23 TIER 1 Interdisciplinary Research Seed Grants for 13 different projects.

In the Media

Nov 03, 2021

Northeastern University Team Working to Create Robotic Avatar in Multi-year Competition

Northeastern team advised by ECE Associate Professor Taskin Padir and MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney featured in WCVB article “Northeastern University team working to create robotic avatar in multi-year competition.”


Oct 22, 2021

Northeastern Team Advances to Finals of ANA Avatar XPRIZE

Team Northeastern is one of 15 teams selected as finalists in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE. Finalist teams will equally share a milestone prize purse of $2M and move on to Finals Testing in Fall 2022 for their chance to win part of the $8M Finals prize purse.

Computer engineering graduate student Rui Luo operates the robot that will be entered into the September 2021 semifinals of a $10 million global robotics competition.


Sep 10, 2021

Creating a Human Avatar in Remote Locations

A group of Northeastern University students led by MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney, has made it to the semifinals of the global Avatar XPrize competition which aims to create an avatar system that can transport human presence to a remote location in real-time.

Peter Whitney, professor of engineering, demonstrates robotic teleoperation with haptic feedback.


Jul 28, 2021

Northeastern Engineers Developing Nimble Robotic Arms

MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney was featured in the Robotics & Innovation article “Northeastern engineers developing nimble robotic arms.”

Robotic arm attached to Peter Whitney's arm.


Jul 28, 2021

Advancing Remote Robotic Technology

MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney has been working to design lightweight nimble robotic arms that could be capable of remote surgery or other situations where safety might be a factor. Nimble robotic arms that perform delicate surgery may be one step closer to reality Main photo: Robotics researchers at Northeastern are advancing a technology to […]

two students working on competition project on laptops

Student Groups

Jun 10, 2021

Northeastern Team Selected as a Finalist in the 2021 RASC-AL Competition

The Northeastern University team has been selected as a finalist in NASA’s 2021 RASC-AL Competition, which stands for Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage. They will showcase their aerospace concepts via a virtual platform during the 2021 RASC-AL Forum, scheduled June 15 – 17, 2021. Specifically, the Northeastern team will present to NASA and aerospace industry […]

In the Media

Jul 31, 2020

Remotely Operated Robot Takes Straight Razor to Face of Brave Roboticist

MIE Assistant Professor Peter Whitney had his face shaved with a straight razor by a remotely controlled robotic device.

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