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Arturo  Rankin's Picture
Address:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 264-630
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Member of:
347K
Robot Operations Group
Arturo Rankin, PhD
Robotics Systems Engineer IV
(Short description>>)

Arturo Rankin is a member of the Robot Operations Group (347K) of the Autonomous Systems Division. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1997 with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Since joining the technical staff at JPL in April, 1997, he has functioned as a task manager for MER and DoD projects, MSL lead for Flight Software, Mobility/Mechanisms downlink, and the traction control test team, and a member of MER mission operations, InSight Testbed Lander, and LSOT Testbed Lander teams, as well as a cognizant engineer. He led the effort that successfully integrated the Field D* global path planner into MER flight software.
He has also developed obstacle detection and terrain mapping software for a variety of reimbursable unmanned ground vehicle programs, such as Demo III Experimental Unmanned Ground Vehicle, Perception for Off-Road Robots, Robotic Collaborative Technology Alliances, Future Combat System Autonomous Navigation System, and Sensor Fusion for Low-Cost Perception. Prior to arriving at JPL, he functioned as the software lead for path planning and path following strategies at the University of Florida for a variety of ordnance detection and removal projects sponsored by Wright Laboratories, Tyndall AFB (Rapid Runway Repair, SOCS, Joint Amphibious Mine Clearance, Remote Excavation Vehicle Systems).

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (1997)
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

  • Dissertation: Development of Path Tracking Software for an Autonomous Steered-Wheeled Robotic Vehicle and its Trailer
  • Research advisior: Professor Carl D. Crane III
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1993)
    University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

  • Thesis: Path Planning and Path Execution Software for an Autonomous Non-Holonomic Robotic Vehicle
  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1987)
    Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.


    Robotics Systems Engineer IV, JPL
    Robot Operations Group
  • Principle investigator/task manager/CogE for various research tasks funded by NASA, DARPA, ONR, and U.S. Army sponsors
  • Manage reimbursable and/or flight task(s), support MSL and MER operations, develop/test/deliver path planning, terrain classification, and/or terrain mapping software to reimbursable and flight tasks, and propose new work.
  • Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)
    Flight Software Lead (6/2017 - present)
    Mobility Downlink Team Lead (3/2015 - 2016)
    Mobility/Mechanisms Downlink Team Lead (2016 - present)
    Traction Control Test Team Lead (6/2015 - present)

  • Quarterly Mobility trending briefing to the project
  • Periodic wheel wear assessment and briefing to the project
  • Lead Mobility Incident Surprise Anomaly (ISA) investigations
  • Manage on-console downlink assessment, training, and schedule
  • Manage Mobility tactical and trending tool development
  • Manage Mobility testbed testing
  • Perform verification and validation testing of AutoNav software on VSTB testbed
  • NNN13R265T: ONR Sensor Fusion for Low-Cost Perception
    Task Manager (3/2012 - 3/2016)

  • JPL is tasked with designing and building a low-cost perception system for an internally transportable vehicle (ITV)
  • Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Operations
    Member of the Mobility/IDD downlink analysis team (10/2006 - present)

  • Perform assessment of Mobility and IDD engineering downlink data
  • NMO715701: ONR Autonomy For Unmanned Sea Surface Vehicles
    Camera System Cognizant Engineer (5/2011 - 9/2012)

  • EO and thermal infrared sensor selection for a HammerHead high resolution (4kx4k) perception system containing left and right looking stereo pairs of cameras
  • InSight TestBed Lander
    Camera System Cognizant Engineer (7/2011 - 5/2012)

  • Design and implement imaging software and sequences for acquiring stereo pairs of images from a single robotic arm camera for MIPL processing
  • Lunar Surface Operations TestBed (LSOT) Lander
    Camera System Cognizant Engineer (4/2010 - 4/2011)

  • Design, implement, and document terrain assessment software for digging hazards
  • NMO715443 - ARL Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliances (RCTA)
    Cognizant Engineer (04/2004 – 12/2009)

  • JPL software lead on obstacle detection, terrain mapping, and water/mud
  • detection development
  • Integrated multi-cue water detection and localization on an unmanned ground vehicle
  • Accomplished autonomous navigation around a water body
  • Implemented 1st generation mud detector using color stereo and polarization sensors
  • Implemented stereo-based traversability cost analysis in a scrolling world map
  • TDA2735 - D* Integration into MER
    Task Manager (05/2005 - 03/2007)

  • Led the effort that successfully integrated the Field D* global path planner into MER flight software
  • NMO715748 - Perception System for Army Future Combat System (FCS) Autonomous Navigation System (ANS)
    Task Manager (2/2010 – 4/2010)
    Cognizant Engineer (04/2004 - 06/2007)

  • Managing passive perception software development
  • Delivered water detection software to the program
  • Performed LWIR stereo and rolling shutter CMOS stereo sensor evaluations for passive perception system
  • NMO715441 - DARPA Perception for Off-Road Robots (PerceptOR)
    Cognizant Engineer (03/2001 - 03/2004)

  • Managed passive perception system hardware and software development, integration, and testing
  • JPL software lead on passive perception obstacle detection and terrain mapping
  • Implemented a set of geometry-based discrete obstacle detectors (negative, positive, excessive slope, low overhang, high density)
  • Implemented combined geometry and thermal signature based negative obstacle detection
  • ARL Demo III Experimental Unmanned Ground Vehicle
    Cognizant Engineer (01/2002 - 07/2002)
    System Engineer (04/1997 - 01/2002

  • JPL autonomous mobility software lead for stereo-vision related positive obstacle detection, negative obstacle detection, tree-line detection (out to 100 meters), low-bandwidth terrain mapping, and active gaze control.
  • DARPA Tactical Mobile Robots (TMR)
    System Engineer (09/1998 - 11/1999)

  • Assisted port of CMU Morphin path planner to Urbie
  • Provided path following software used in leader/follower behavior

  • Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

    Flight Projects:
    2011 - Mars Science Laboratory
    2003 - Mars Exploration Rover

    Research Tasks:
    D* Integration into MER
    Sensor Fusion for Low-Cost Perception
    D* Integration into MER


    Robotic Vehicle Path Following
  • Dissertation: “Development of Path Tracking Software for an Autonomous Steered-Wheeled Robotic Vehicle and its Trailer”

  • Robotic Vehicle Path Planning
  • M.S. Thesis: “Path Planning and Path Execution Software for an Autonomous Non-Holonomic Robotic Vehicle”

  • Terrain Perception
  • Binary obstacle detection (negative, positive, excessive slope, low overhang, density based)
  • Multi-cue obstacle detection (e.g., geometry and thermal)
  • Multi-sensor obstacle detection
  • Terrain traversability analysis
  • Terrain mapping
  • Sensor characterization
  • Water and mud detection for terrestrial applications

  • 2017 Voyager Award (MSL traction control integration)
  • 2015 NASA Group Achievement Award (MSL Operations)
  • 2014 NASA Group Achievement Award (MER Operations)
  • 2014 JPL Mariner Award (MER Operations)
  • 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award (MSL Operations)
  • 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award (Planetary Geophysical Exploration Testbed Team)
  • 2012 NSBE Aerospace Systems Conference 21st Century Trailblazers in Aerospace Award
  • 2010 NASA Group Achievement Award(MER Electro-mechanical Failure Mitigation Team)
  • 2009 JPL Mariner Award
  • 2008 NASA Group Achievement Award (MER Extended Mission team)
  • 2007 NASA Space Act Award for Field D* global path planner integration into MER flight software.
  • 2006 Mars Exploration Directorate Team Bonus Award for integration of the Field D* global path planner into the MER flight software
  • 2000 JPL Technical Excellence Award (Tactical Mobile Robots team)
  • 2000 JPL TAP Group Achievement Award (Demo III team)

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