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David Conner

David Conner

Assistant Professor

Luter Hall 329
(757) 594-7360


  • Ph D in Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University
  • MS in Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University
  • MS in Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Artificial intelligence, robotics, parallel processing, machine learning, programming, and algorithms


Robotics, behavior synthesis, planning, control, machine learning, perception, humanitarian robotics, and autonomous systems


David C. Conner directs CHRISLab, the Capable Humanitarian Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab, where they focus on the autonomous control of mechanical systems that are commonly called “robots”. This is accomplished using a mix of computer algorithms for planning and logical reasoning, control theory, reactive finite state machines, and specially designed hardware. Example applications include removing humans from harm’s way during rescue operations and developing assistive technologies that enable increased levels of independence for human users.

Dr. Conner’s specific interests are in the automatic synthesis of finite state machines that govern the overall system behavior by composing well defined system capabilities. Specifically, his research group focuses on formalizing component capabilities in a way that enables automatic and verifiable synthesis of high-level behaviors based on user defined task specifications, with the goal of simplifying the problem of deploying robotic systems, and enable non-engineers to re-task a system to take on changing responsibilities consistent with the system’s specific capabilities.

Dr. Conner earned his PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in December 2007 with his thesis entitled “Integrating Planning and Control for Constrained Dynamical Systems”. He has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech (BS ’91) and masters degrees from Virginia Tech (ME 2000) and Carnegie Mellon (Robotics, 2004).

Dr. Conner was formerly Senior Research Scientist at TORC Robotics, where he worked on planning, perception, and prediction systems for unmanned ground vehicles. From 2012 to 2015, he was Principal Investigator for Team ViGIR, which competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge using a Boston Dynamics Atlas humanoid robot.

Prior to returning to graduate school, he worked for TRAX Corporation developing computer simulations of thermal and electrical systems for power and process industries.

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