In 2011, Derek worked full time at Weta Workshop to create animatronic props and effects for several feature films, including “The Hobbit.” He also worked on set with animatronic pieces and actors.
In February 2006, Derek started his own company as a launching pad for a career in human-centered robotics. He developed several animatronic systems, incorporating work with robotic frames, pneumatic actuators, servomechanisms, sensors, printed circuit board electronics, and control circuitry. Golem Workshop is an ongoing effort to advance animatronic and co-robot technologies for themed attractions, medical, and commercial settings.
From January 2010 to August 2011, Derek was a researcher at the US Army Research Laboratory Robotics Program Office. Derek developed control software and electronics for a tentacle manipulator (robot hand made of multiple snake-like robots), acquired specialized training in embedded systems development, worked with robots the size of bugs, the size of cars, and many in-between, developed projects using the Robot Operating System, and performed research in the effect that robot movement has on a human observer.
From July 2005 to January 2010, Derek worked as a computer engineer for US Army CERDEC. Derek was on the C2ORE ATO Team, working in software development, testing, and demonstrations on a system to control multiple robotic entities simultaneously. Additionally, he worked as an ARL guest researcher in various robotics technologies under the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance.