Prof. Vijay Kumar


Prof. Vijay Kumar is a world-renowned roboticist known for his acclaimed and seminal work in developing agile, smart, safe and multi-robot formations. He is currently the Nemirovsky Family Dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds appointments in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science, and Electrical and Systems Engineering. In 2014, IIT Kanpur conferred upon him the Distinguished Alumnus Award 2014 for academic excellence.


Prof. Vijay Kumar received his B.Tech. in mechanical engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1983 and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1987. He then joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics with a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1987, he has held several administrative positions at the university including Director, General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) lab aimed at advancing innovation in robotics and develop new products and services; Deputy Dean for Research in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, 2000-2004; Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, 2005-2008; and the Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, 2008-2012. He has also served as the assistant director of Robotics and Cyber Physical Systems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2012-2013.

Prof. Kumar primarily works in robotics, specifically multi-robot systems, and micro aerial vehicles. He and his research team are involved in creating autonomous ground and aerial robots, bio-inspired algorithms for collective behaviors and robot swarms. His belief in the potential of the usage of drones for disaster relief has seen him develop autonomous agile aerial robots for construction, surveying disasters and far more. As he says, his motivation comes from nature, he has borrowed nature's principles to design and develop small, smart and safe swarms of drones that can navigate in an unknown environment. He is particularly interested in developing robots that can help in precision farming and can be the first rapid responders in cases of emergency.

Prof. Kumar's outstanding work has won him innumerable awards, recognitions and memberships of prestigious elite societies. He has won best paper awards at DARS 2002, ICRA 2004, ICRA 2011, RSS 2011, RSS 2013 and ICRA 2014. He is a Presidential Fellow at The Ohio State University, 1986; fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2003; fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 2005; and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics and the Springer Tract in Advanced Robotics (STAR). He currently serves as the editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics and an advisory board member of the AAAS Science Robotics Journal.

Achievements and Honors

  • IEEE RAS George Saridis Leadership Award in Robotics and Automation, 2017.
  • The Joseph Engelberger Award by the Robotics Industries Association, 2014.
  • Recipient of Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2014 by IIT Kanpur.
  • Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, 2013.
  • George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, 2013.
  • IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Distinguished Award, 2012.
  • ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Award, 2012.
  • IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Distinguished Lecturer, 2005.
  • Ferdinand Freudenstein Award, 5th National Conference on Mechanisms and Robotics, 1997.
  • Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Pennsylvania, 1996.
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1991.