Jonathan Greco


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The THOR project involves the creation of a humanoid rescue robot that can effectively respond to the tasks and challenges outlined by the DARPA Robotics Challenge. Robots must be able to climb a ladder, open a valve, enter and drive a car, among other tasks.

Our team is a collaboration involving Virginia Tech, University of Pennsylvania, Robotis Inc, and Harris Corp. The project involves substantial effort in hardware, software, and testing along with coordinated work across the four companies and universities.

Modlab contributes hardware support for the project, mostly assisting the University of Pennsylvania group in necessary testing of tasks and the robot's overall mechanical limitations.


LRBT (Little Robots that can move Big Things) is a project aimed toward designing a robot or group of robots capable of moving objects much heavier than themselves by taking advantage of reaction forces in the environment.

I quantitatively characterized the mechanical advantage benefit through theory and experiment for my Qualifying Examination, exploring the characteristics associated with using robots as winches along with path planning in a well-defined environment.

Currently I am exploring the robotic grasping to generic environment features for use on an LRBT (Little Robot that can move a Big Thing).


The DARPA TEMP (Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform) project was completed in Modlab in February, 2013. The project was to design and construct one hundred robotic boats capable of docking to and undocking from one another to form advantageous configurations in open water.

In Modlab, we prototyped, designed, and built the boats. In addition, we developed a comprehensive software framework and network architecture using ROS to allow the robotic boats to communicate and assemble into configurations intelligently and completely autonomously.

My work on DARPA TEMP focused on low-level boat code, such as the thruster controls, along with high-level programming including the docking sequence. A video of the completed project (with the boats forming a bridge) can be found here.

Mechatronics Projects

In the fall of 2012, I completed a number of mechatronics projects as part of UPenn's MEAM 510 class. Such projects include a laser tracker, a labyrinth navigating robot, and a music-playing device. Additionally, I worked with Tarik Tosun and Joe Polin to create a self-balancing, wheeled robot.

The culminating project for the course was to create of a team of robots to play hockey against one another. I teamed up with Tarik, Joe, and Justin Starr to create three completely autonomous robots that could attack and defend the goal using on-board localization and puck-tracking. The robots are pictured in the image on the left.

Small Generator

In the fall of 2011, a team of Yale seniors (Max Micali, Bryn Pitt, Kenny Castañeda, Miyuki Hino, and Kevin Hoffman) in Engineering tackled a project to create a small generator to be used for providing power for small devices off the grid, such as cell phones, computers, light bulbs, and other low-power applications. We were able to make a generator roughly the size of a shoebox that could produce 250 Watts of power with only an input of glow fuel.

For my senior project, in the spring of 2012, I expanded upon the generator project by creating electronic throttle controls for the generator using an Arduino microcontroller to implement PID feeback to control for constant power output.