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Thomas M. Howard's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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Member of:
Former JPL Robotics Personnel
Thomas M. Howard, Ph.D.
Research Technologist
(Short description>>)

Thomas Howard is a Research Technologist with the Robotics Software Systems Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Howard earned a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009 and B.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2004. His doctoral thesis research focused on developing model-predictive techniques for mobile robot motion planning in complex, cluttered environments. While at Carnegie Mellon University he contributed the local navigation trajectory planner for Boss, winner of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

Since joining the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2009 he has worked on developing technologies for motion planning, navigation, control, and simulation of mobile robots and redundant manipulators. A common theme of Dr. Howard’s research centers on the idea of developing a general class of computationally efficient kinodynamic motion planning algorithms that are agnostic to the underlying mechanics of robot-environment interaction. While at Carnegie Mellon University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory he applied his motion planning work on numerous diverse autonomous systems spanning planetary rovers, field robots, intelligent automobiles, and robotic torsos. Dr. Howard has recently led research tasks on perception and pose estimation in poorly illuminated environments and mobile robot search space design. He is a member of the Mars Science Laboratory flight software team working on autonomous navigation and the motion planning lead for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology team on the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation program. Dr. Howard has authored or co-authored four journal articles, nineteen conference papers, and a book chapter in robot motion planning, navigation, control, and simulation. He has also twice been appointed as a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology where he co-teaches the class Advanced Robotics: Navigation and Vision.

Ph.D. in Robotics (2009)
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

M.S. in Robotics (2006)
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2004)
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (2004)
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Research Technologist II (2009-): Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator, Key Personnel, or contributor for research projects sponsored by NASA, SPAWAR and DARPA.

Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering (2011,2012): Co-taught the two-quarter class Advanced Robotics: Navigation and Vision at the California Institute of Technology.

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects:
2011 - Mars Science Laboratory

Mobile Robots, Motion Planning, Navigation, Control, Mobile Manipulation, Redundant Manipulators, System Identification, Autonomous Systems

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