Raibert's research is devoted to the study of systems that move dynamically, including physical robots and animated creatures. Raibert's laboratory at MIT, the Leg Lab, is well known for its work on systems that move dynamically, including legged robots, simulated mechanisms, and animated figures. The Leg Lab created a series of laboratory robots including one-legged hoppers, biped runners, a quadruped, and two kangaroo-like robots. Taken collectively, these robots travel along simple paths, balance themselves actively, climb a simple stairway, run fast (13.1 mph), run with several gaits, and do rudimentary gymnastic maneuvers. A couple of years ago two robots (and 3 students) appeared in Rising Sun with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. The Leg Lab also created On The Run, a computer generated cartoon in which all the characters were animated using simulation and control. Work at Boston Dynamics on automated characters and physics-based dynamic simulation are outgrowths of research done by Raibert's group at MIT.
Raibert received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in 1973, and a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. His Ph.D thesis, entitled "Motor control and learning by the state space model", used robotics techniques to model biological beahvior. He worked on robot sensing and control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech from 1977 through 1980. He was on the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon University Computer Science Department and the Robotics Institute from 1981-1986. He is author of Legged Robots That Balance published by MIT Press, is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Robotics Research, was guest editor of two issues of IJRR devoted to legged systems, and is a fellow of the AAAI.