Biomimetics and Dextrous Manipulation Lab


Dr. Elliot Wright Hawkes
Visiting Assistant Professor, Stanford University
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, UC Santa Barbara
Hawkes Group Website

Research Interests

  • Growing Robots
  • Soft Actuators
  • Exoskeletons
  • Mechanical Intelligence
  • Smart materials
  • Mechanism design
  • Non-linear compliance,
  • Smart, anisotropic, and hysteric materials
  • Biomechanics
  • Applying gecko-inspired adhesives to the real world--including human climbing
  • Stickybot III co-designer

Quick Updates

  • January 2017: "Exomuscle: An inflatable device for shoulder abduction support," accepted to ICRA 2017, lead author: Cole Simpson. Congrats Cole!
  • January 2017: "Series Pneumatic Artificial Muscles (sPAMs) and Application to a Soft Continuum Robot," accepted to ICRA 2017, lead author: Joey Greer. Congrats Joey!
  • January 2017: "Force and Moment Constraints of a Curved Surface Gripper and Wrist for Assistive Free Flyers," accepted to ICRA 2017, lead author: Matt Estrada. Congrats Matt!
  • January 2017: "Pneumatic Reel Actuator: Design, Modeling, and Implementation," accepted to ICRA 2017, lead author: Zachary Hammond. Congrats Zack!
  • January 2017: "Passive Returning Mechanism for Twisted String Actuators," accepted to ICRA 2017, lead author: Muhammad Usman. Congrats Muhammad!
  • January 2017: "Design of a Compact Actuation and Control System for Flexible Medical Robots," accepted to ICRA 2017 and RAL, lead author: Tania Morimoto. Congrats Tania!
  • December 2016: US Patent 9517610 Issued: "Grippers based on opposing van der Waals adhesive pads."
  • December 2016: "A Multi-Modal Robot for Perching and Climbing on Vertical Outdoor Surfaces" has been accepted to IEEE Transactions on Robotics. Check out the fun video. Congrats Morgan Pope!
  • October 2016: "Fruit fly scale robots can hover longer with flapping wings than with spinning wings" published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Thanks to co-author David Lentink for all the help!
  • October 2016: Congrats to Inrak Choi for "Best Demo," showing Wolverine Haptic Interface at UIST 2016, in Tokyo, Japan!
  • September 2016: Excited to start working on our NSF NRI grant on vine robots!
  • July 2016: Began as Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University in CHARM Lab.
  • July 2016: Accepted position as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • June 2016: "Wolverine: A Wearable Haptic Interface for Grasping in Virtual Reality," lead author Inrak Choi, accepted to IROS 2016. Congrats Inrak!
  • May 2016: 4 new provisional patents filed.
  • March 2016: Stephen Colbert once again believes in the goodness of science; Spiderman IS plausible after all!

Stephen Colbert pretending to climb like Spiderman/Elliot

ICRA Best Student Paper 2015: Grasping without Squeezing

Quick Links

  • Human climbing in the news:
and 34 other articles.
  • Human Climbing paper's ranking by Altmetrics places it in the top 5% of all articles scored by Altmetric and 1/952 of articles from Royal Society Interface.
  • Curriculum Vitae


Journal Articles

  1. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., Han, A.K., Jiang, H. and Cutkosky, M.R. "Grasping with Shear Adhesion." In Preparation (Invited to IEEE Trans. Robotics).
  2. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., Pope, M.T., and Cutkosky, M.R. "One Motor, Two Degrees of Freedom: Leveraging Dynamic Response for State Control." IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. In Review.
  3. Hawkes, E.W., Jiang, H., and Cutkosky, M.R. "Three-dimensional dynamic surface grasping with dry adhesives." International Journal of Robotics Research. Published online before print June 29, 2015 Doi: 10.1177/0278364915584645.
  4. Hawkes E.W., Eason E.V., Christensen .DL., Cutkosky M.R. 2015 "Human climbing with efficiently scaled gecko-inspired dry adhesives." Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12: 20140675. Online Preprint
  5. Suresh, S.A., Christensen, D.L., Hawkes, E.W., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Surface and Shape Deposition Manufacturing for the Fabrication of a Curved Surface Gripper," ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics 7(2), May 2015. DOI:10.1115/1.4029492.
  6. Eason, E.V., Hawkes, E.W., Windheim, M., Christensen, D.L., Libby, T. and Cutkosky, M.R., "Stress distribution and contact area measurements of a gecko toe using a high-resolution tactile sensor," Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, vol. 10, no. 1, 016013, February 2015. DOI:10.1088/1748-3190/10/1/016013
  7. Desbiens, A. L., Pope, M. T., Christensen, D. L., Hawkes, E. W., & Cutkosky, M. R. (2014). Design principles for efficient, repeated jumpgliding. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 9(2), 25009. doi:10.1088/1748-3182/9/2/025009
  8. Hawkes, E.W., Eason, E.V., Asbeck, A.T., and Cutkosky, M.R., "The Gecko’s Toe: Scaling directional adhesives for climbing applications," IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 518-526, April 2013.DOI:10.1109/TMECH.2012.2209672
  9. Stirling, L., Yu, C., Hawkes, E.W., Miller, J., Wood, R.J., Goldfield, E., and Nagpal, R. “Applicability of shape memory alloy wire for an active, soft orthotic.” J. Mater. Eng. Perform., 20.4 (2011) : 658–662.
  10. Paik, J. K., Hawkes, E.W., and Wood, R.J. “A novel low-profile shape memory alloy torsional actuator.” Smart Materials and Structures 19.12 (2010) : 125014.
  11. Nagy, Z., Harada, K., Fluckiger, M., Susilo, E., Kaliakatsos, I.K., Menciassi, A.,Hawkes, E.W., Abbott, J.J., Dario, P., and Nelson, B.J. “Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical Systems: Opportunities and Challenges,” Int’l Journ. of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics (IJBBR), 1.1 (2008) : 3.
  12. Hawkes, E.W., An, B., Benbernou, N., Tanaka, H., Kim, S., Demaine, E., Rus, D., and Wood, R. J. “Programmable matter by folding.” Proceedings of the Nat’l Academy of Sciences of the United States. 107.28 (2009) : 12441-12445.

Refereed Conference Articles

  1. Estrada, M., Hockman, B., Bylard, A., Hawkes, E.W., Cutkosky, M.R., and Pavone, M. “Free-Flyer Acquisition of Spinning Objects with Gecko-Inspired Adhesives.” 2016 IEEE Int’l Conf. Robotics and Automation. In review.
  2. Wu, X.A., Suresh, A.S., Jiang, H., Ulmen, J., Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., and Cutkosky, M.R. “Tactile Sensing for Gecko-Inspired Adhesion.” IEEE Int. Conf. Intelligent Robotics and Automation (IROS). (2015). Best Paper Award.
  3. Jiang, H., Pope, M., Estrada, M., Edwards, B., Cuson, M., Hawkes, E.W., and Cutkosky, M.R. “Perching Failure Detection and Recovery with Onboard Sensing,” Int. Conf. Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). (2015).
  4. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., and Okamura, A.M. "300% Strain Pneumatic Artificial Muscle." IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation 2016. In Review.
  5. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., Han, A.K., Jiang, H. and Cutkosky, M.R. "Grasping without Squeezing: Shear Adhesion Gripper with Fibrillar Thin Film," IEEE/ICRA 2015 Best Student Paper Award
  6. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Vertical Dry Adhesive Climbing with a 100x Bodyweight Payload," IEEE/ICRA 2015.
  7. Christensen, D.L., Hawkes, E.W., and Cutkosky, M.R., "µTugs: Enabling Microrobots to Deliver Macro Forces with Controllable Adhesives," IEEE/ICRA 2015.
  8. Jiang, H., Hawkes, E.W., Arutyunov, V., Tims, J., Fuller, C., King, J.P., Seubert, C., Chang, H.L., Parness, A., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Scaling Controllable Adhesives to Grapple Floating Objects in Space," IEEE/ICRA 2015.
  9. Eason, E.V., Hawkes, E.W., Windheim, M., Christensen, D.L., Libby, T. and Cutkosky, M.R., "Adhesive Stress Distribution Measurement on a Gecko," Living Machines 2014.
  10. Estrada, M.A., Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Perching and Crawling: Design of a Multimodal Robot," IEEE ICRA 2014. Best Paper Finalist
  11. Jiang, H., Pope, M.T., Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., Estrada, M.A., Parlier, A., Tran, R., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Modeling the Dynamics of Perching with Opposed-Grip Mechanisms," IEEE/ICRA 2014.
  12. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L., Eason, E.V., Estrada, M.A., Heverly, M., Hilgemann, E., Jiang, H., Pope, M.T., Parness, A., and Cutkosky, M.R., "Dynamic Surface Grasping with Directional Adhesion," IEEE/RSJ IROS 2013, Nov. 2013.
  13. Hawkes, E.W., Ulmen, J., Esparza, N., and Cutkosky, M.R. "Scaling Walls: Applying Dry Adhesives to the Real World." IEEE IROS 2011, San Francisco, Sept. 2011.

PhD Thesis

  1. Hawkes, E. W., "Applying Dry Adhesives to the Real World," Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University, 2015.


  1. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L, Pope, M.T., and Cutkosky, M.R. "Velocity-dependent magnetic averaging for one-way clutch." US Provisional Application No. 61924140 filed January 6, 2014, application for non-provisional patent filed January 6, 2015.
  2. Hawkes, E.W., Eason, E.V., Christensen, D.L, and Cutkosky, M.R. “Device for Human Climbing with Gecko Inspired Dry Adhesives,” (No. 61/984,946, Provisional).
  3. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L, and Cutkosky, M.R. “A method of enabling anisotropic directional dry adhesion enabling a simple one degree of freedom climbing robot,” (No. 62/103184, Provisional).
  4. Hawkes, E.W., Christensen, D.L, and Cutkosky, M.R. “Shear Controlled Dry Adhesive Film,” (No. 62/103165, Provisional).
  5. Christensen, D.L, Hawkes, E.W., and Cutkosky, M.R. “Enhancing ground reaction forces substantially beyond friction using dry adhesives,” (No. 62/103175, Provisional).
  6. Hawkes, E.W., Choi, K.J., Wood, R.J. “Multi-segmented spine with integrated actuation,” No. 12/784,899, US20100295417A1.


  • ME 161/261 with Prof. Paul Mitiguy
  • Guest lecturer for ME 310: Design Innovation

Awards and Honors

  • Best Student Paper Award, IEEE ICRA 2015
  • Nominated for 2015 Best Paper Award in Bioinspired Smart Materials and Systems
  • Invited to exhibit Human Climbing work at TED2015 in Vancouver.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, 2012-2014
  • Best Conference Paper Award Finalist Co-author, IEEE ICRA 2014
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate fellowship, 2009-2012
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 2009
  • Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, 2008
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates recipient, 2007
  • Herschel Smith Undergraduate Research Award, 2008
  • First Place and new Harvard school record, Model Bridge Contest (5400lbs.), 2007



Elliot W. Hawkes
Post Doctoral Researcher Mechanical Engineering
418 Panama Mall
MERL Bldg 02-660, Rm 128
Stanford, CA 94305

Page last modified on March 26, 2017, at 04:40 PM