Planetary Robotic Exploration: Mobility and Autonomy

Issa A.D. Nesnas

Group Supervisor, Robotic Software Systems Group
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA

ABSTRACT  The success of the Mars rovers has provided a wealth of information leading to major scientific discoveries. Planetary mobility has proved to be an invaluable tool of surface exploration, complementing orbital observations. In this talk, Dr. Nesnas will provide an overview of advances in robotic mobility and autonomy that have contributed to the success of the Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers and that are planned for use on the Mars 2020 rover. He will also highlight current and needed advances in mobility, sampling, and autonomy that would allow future access to extreme terrains such as crater walls, icy crevasses, gullies, canyons and skylights. He will share advances and field-test results of recent work in wheeled, rappelling, legged, microgravity, and aerial mobility.

BIOSKETCH  Issa Nesnas is a principal technologist and the supervisor of the Robotic Mobility group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He conducts research in mobility and autonomy with a focus on extreme terrain access and microgravity mobility. He contributed to the development of autonomous rover navigation and visual target tracking and participated in the development of the Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. Dr. Nesnas led the development of multi-institutional robotic autonomy software effort, served on NASA’s Capability Leadership Team for Autonomy, and co-chaired NASA’s Technology Roadmaps for Robotics and Autonomous Systems. He authored or co-authored over fifty publications and holds several patents. Early in his career, he worked with national leaders in industrial robotic automation at a Silicon Valley firm. He received a B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College in 1991, and earned the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in robotics from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Notre Dame in 1993 and 1995 respectively.