Red Whittaker is a certified legend in the robotics community. The head of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University, Whittaker has been instrumental building the driverless car that took part in the DARPA Grand Challenge as well as the Mars Rover, a robot designed to explore volcanoes, the arctic, and other planets.
Whittaker and his team is now taking on the Google Lunar X Prize, an effort to put an unmanned rover on the moon to send back video and images. His design, a unique rover coupled with a lander unit, is in the running to be one of the big winners in the race.
The roboticist is a former Marine and has the brusque and wily demeanor of a man who knows what he’s doing. We had a chance to talk with him about his work, the lander, and the future of space travel.