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Issa A.D. Nesnas' Picture
Address:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 198-219
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Phone:
818.354.9709
Fax:
818.393.5007
Email:
Click here
Member of:
347F
Robotic Mobility Group
Issa A.D. Nesnas
Group Supervisor
(Short description>>)

Issa Nesnas is the Group Supervisor for the Robotic Software Systems group and the Principal Investigator of the multi-institutional robotic software architecture (CLARAty). He has over 15 years of experience in robotic system and software design, sensor-based robotic control, and vision-guided manipulation.

Issa joined JPL in 1997 where he worked on planetary dexterous manipulation for rovers and landers. He developed algorithms for vision-based manipulation, sample acquisition, and instrument placement from rover platforms. He was the Cognizant engineer on CLARAty from 1999 to 2001. More recently, Issa has led several research tasks including rover-based visual tracking and the development of the Rocky 8 and Axel rovers. He also worked on the entry, descent, and landing for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Prior to joining JPL in 1997, Issa was a senior project engineer at Adept Technology, Inc. inventing and implementing several new technologies for high-speed vision-based robotic applications. He holds a patent for the Impulse-based flexible parts feeder. He also participated in the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences Consortium working with industry leaders in factory automation including Eastman Kodak, Ford, GM, Delco Electronics, and Cummins Engine, designing hardware and software standards for robotic assembly cells.

Issa received a B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College, NY, 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, in 1993 and 1995 respectively.

He has received several Notable Organizational Value Added (NOVA) Awards and Exceptional Achievement Awards for his work at JPL. Issa is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi national honor societies.

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (1995) from the University of Notre Dame, IN
Research Area: Dexterous and force control for redundant manipulators

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1993) from the University of Notre Dame, IN
Research Area: Vision-based manipulation and trajectory following

B.E. in Electrical Engineering (1991) from Manhattan College, NY
Ranked first in the School of Engineering and graduated Summa Cum Laude
Research Area: Microcontroller design for a robotic arm

Principal Investigator and Task Manager for the CLARAty on-board robotic control software (2001 - present)
  • Managing a multi-institutional software development project with a total budget of $8M and up to twenty team members at four institutions
  • Led the design and development of an integrated robotic software that captured technologies from multiple institutions
  • Set up a remotely accessible test bed facility
  • Deployed the software at several institutions and on multiple robots simultaneously
  • Demonstrated autonomous rough terrain navigation and single-cycle instrument placement
Cognizant Engineer for robotic software (CLARAty) (Feb 2000 - Aug 2001)
  • Led the development of a generic software architecture for robotic systems
  • Designed and implemented a reusable software system for various rovers
  • Established collaboration with other NASA centers and universities
  • Setup a multi-center software development infra-structure and process
Principal Investigator for several robotic technologies (June 2000 - Sep 2004)
  • Led the development of visual target tracking for rover platforms
  • Led the integration of artificial intelligence onto rover platforms
  • Led the hardware/software development of a re-configurable robot
  • Led the hardware development of the Rocky 8 research rover
Cognizant Engineer for LIDAR Subsystem (Apr 2000 - Aug 2001)
  • Developed requirements for the LIDAR of the then 2007 Mars Smart Lander mission
  • Developed field-of-view analysis for a LIDAR guided robotic landing
Robotics Engineer for Autonomous Dexterous Manipulation (Dec 1997 - Nov 1999)
  • Architected and developed software and algorithms for autonomous sample acquisition and single-cycle instrument placement from a rover platform
  • Designed, built, and demonstrated a manipulator platform (Dexter) with autonomous vision-guided sample acquisition
  • Consulted on the design and development of the robotics Matlab package
Senior Project Engineer at Adept Technology, Inc. (Aug 1995 - Dec 1997)
  • Invented and implemented several new technologies for high-speed vision-based robotic applications
  • Architected and designed real-time software, developed optimization strategies, and invented hardware for a novel vision based flexible parts feeder
  • Conceptualized, designed, and implemented hardware and software for standard robotic assembly cells as part of the Light Flexible Mechanical Assembly consortium
  • Participated in the NCMS Consortium working with industry leaders in factory automation such as Eastman Kodak, Ford, GM, Delco Electronics, and Cummins Engine, designing hardware and software standards for robotic assembly cells
  • Developed software for high-accuracy vision-based assembly of complex parts and real-time manipulation with vision tracking
Invited Talks
  • Invited speaker at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Barcelona, Spain (2005)
  • Invited speaker at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (2003) at Las Vegas, NV
  • Invited speaker at the International Robots & Vision Conference on computer vision for flexible feeding, Detroit, MI (1997)

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects:
2011 - Mars Science Laboratory

Research Tasks:
A Minimalistic Robot for In-situ Exploration of Small Bodies
A Plug-and-play Architecture for Real-time Intelligent Avionics
Axel Rovers for Exploring Extreme Terrains
JTARS: Joint Technical Architecture for Robotic Systems
Reusable Robotic Software - CLARAty
Robust Autonomous Instrument Placement for Rovers
Rover for Steep Terrain Access
Rover Technology Integration - CLARAty
Spacecraft/Rover Hybrids for the Exploration of Small Solar System Bodies
Structured Light Imaging Module for Rover Navigation
A Plug-and-play Architecture for Real-time Intelligent Avionics


  • Software and hardware architectures for robotic systems
  • Autonomous sensor- and vision-based manipulation
  • Robotic mobility and control
  • High-speed vision-guided robotic operations
  • Object-oriented design and artificial intelligence

  • JPL Center Best One NASA Award for a multi-center development of reusable robotic software (2006)
  • JPL Team Bonus Award for the development of reusable robotic software (2005)
  • JPL Level B Bonus Award for leadership in robotics software development (2002)
  • JPL Level C Exceptional Achievement Award for software development (2001)
  • Several Notable Organizational Value Added (NOVA) Award for Innovation and Improvement, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1999, 2000)
  • Best Presentation Award, 8th Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of Notre Dame (1994)
  • The Draddy Medal for General Excellence in Engineering (1991)
  • The Medal for Electrical Engineering (1991)
  • Next in Merit for the Leo Amandus Call Medal for exceptional institutional service (1991)
  • National Honor Societies: Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, Epsilon Sigma Pi

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