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Alex Brinkman


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 82-105

Pasadena, CA 91101

Member of:

347G - Robotic Manipulation and Sampling

Alex Brinkman

Group Leader


While getting his graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon, Alex developed an autonomous picking robot for the 2016 Amazon Picking Challenge with a team of peers and members of the Search-based Planning lab. He was a teaching assistant for the capstone project course and developed a multi-robot demonstration platform.

After joining the Robotic Manipulation and Sampling team at JPL, Alex contributes to software development for autonomous robots with the goal:
"to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life... to boldly go where no one has gone before."


MS in Robotics Systems Development, Carnegie Mellon University, 2016
BS in Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois, 2012

Professional Experience

2016 Carnegie Mellon University - Teaching Assistant
2016 Delphi Inc. - Autonomous Car Intern
2012-2015 Caterpillar Inc. - Powertrain Controls Engineer

Research Interests

Robotic Learning Techniques
Search-based Manipulator Planning
Robot design for robust autonomy


  1. A. Brinkman, J. Karras, D. Zhu, N. Abcouwer, T. Brown, G. Kubiak, A. Umali, L. Tse, J. Zitkus, R. Mccormick, "Leveraging Ingenuity Software and Avionics to Enable Robotic Arm Sampling for COLDArm," 2023 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, pp. 1-9, 04 March 2023.
  2. J. Bowkett, D. Kim, J. Nash, D. Moreno, M. Gildner, R. Thakker, K. Wehage, S. Kim, A. Brinkman, B. Emanuel, J. Edlund, B. Ridge, A. Jain, and P. Backes, "Demonstration of Autonomous Sampling Techniques in an Icy Moon Terrestrial Analog," 2023 IEEE Aerospace Conference, pp. 1-5, 04 March 2023.
  3. D. Newill-Smith, J. Shatts, R. P. Dillon, J. Karras, A. Brinkman, S. Backus, A. Umali, R. McCormick, L. Fradet, J. Laramee, G. Levanas, and R. Fleischner, "Cold Operable Lunar Deployable Arm (COLDArm) System Development and Test," 2023 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, pp. 1-19, doi: 10.1109/AERO55745.2023.10115649, 04 March 2023.
  1. K. Hand, C. Phillips, A. Murray, et al., "Science Goals and Mission Architecture of the Europa Lander Mission Concept," The Planetary Science Journal, vol. 3, iss. 1, 26 January 2022.
  1. Badescu, M., Okamoto, T., Backes, P., Moreland, S., Riccobono, D., Kugel, M., Brinkman, A., Choukroun, M., Molaro, J., Newbold, T., Heness, A., "The Dual-Rasp Sampling System Design with Closed Pneumatic Sample Transfer.," IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-11, 06 March 2021.
  2. Shreyansh Daftry, Barry Ridge, William Seto, Tu-Hoa Pham, Peter Ilhardt, Gerard Maggiolino, Mark Van der Merwe, Alex Brinkman, John Mayo, Eric Kulczyski, Renaud Detry, "Machine Vision based Sample-tube Localization for Mars Sample Return," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 06 March 2021.
  3. J. Bowkett, J. Nash, D. Inkyu Kim, S. Kim, R. Thakker, A. Brinkman, Y. Cheng, R. Wilson, C. Lim, A. Gaut, A. Jain, M. Gildner, B. Emanuel, P. Backes, "Functional Autonomy Challenges in Sampling for an Europa Lander Mission," 2021 IEEE Aerospace Conference (50100), Big Sky, MT, USA, pp. 1-8, 06 March 2021.
  1. R. Mukherjee, B. Chamberlain Simon, K. Wehage, J. Mayo, P. Ohta, A. Brinkman, J. Gross, W. Ubellacker, R. Smith, M. Dolci, N. Abcouwer, K. Junggon, "Testbeds and Technologies for Potential Mars Orbital Sample Capture and Manipulation," 2018 IEEE, 10 March 2018.