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Benjamin Hockman


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219

Pasadena, CA 91101

Member of:

347F - Robotic Mobility

Benjamin Hockman

Robotics Technologist


Ben Hockman is a Robotics Technologist at JPL in the Robotic Mobility Group. He received is PhD from Stanford University in June 2018, supervised by Prof. Marco Pavone in the Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. As lead engineer on the “Hedgehog” project, Ben’s graduate work focused on the design, control, and autonomy for the robotic exploration of small solar system bodies, such as asteroids and comets.


Ph.D. Aeronautics and Astronautics
Stanford University [2018]

M.S. Mechanical Engineering
Stanford University [2015]

B.S. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Delaware [2013]

Research Interests

- Autonomous exploration of small bodies
- Planning and decision making for highly stochastic systems
- Mobility in microgravity and extreme terrain
- Dynamic grasping of free-floating objects
- Localization of sensor-deprived robots


  1. T. S. Vaquero, G. Daddi, R. Thakker, M. Paton, A. Jasour, M. Strub, R. M. Swan, R. Royce, M. Gildner, P. Tosi, M. Veismann, P. Gavrilov, E. Marteau, J. Bowkett, D. Loret de Mola Lemus, Y. Kumar Nakka, B. Hockman, A. Orekhov, T. Hasseler, C. Leake, B. Nuernberger, P. Proenca, W. Reid, W. Talbot, N. Georgiev, T. Pailevanian, A. Archanian, E. Ambrose, J. Jasper, R. Etheredge, C. Roman, D. Levine, K. Otsu, S. Yearicks, H. Melikyan, R. Rieber, K. Carpenter, J. Nash, A. Jain, L. Shiraishi, M. Robinson, M. Travers, H. Choset, J. Burdick, A. Gardner, M. Cable, M. Ingham, and M. Ono, "EELS: Autonomous Snake-like Robot with Task and Motion Planning Capabilities for Ice World Exploration," Science Robotics, vol. 9, no. 88, 13 March 2024.
  2. M. Paton, R. Rieber, S. Cruz, M. Gildner, C. Abma, K. Abma, S. Aghli, E. Ambrose, A. Archanian, E. Bagshaw, C. Baroco, A. Blackstock, J. Bowkett, M. Cable, E. Cartaya, G. Daddi, T. Drevinskas, R. Etheredge, T. Gall, A. Gardner, P. Gavrilov, N. Georgiev, K. Graham, B. Hockman, B. Jones, S. Linn, M. Malaska, E. Marteau, N. Maslen, H. Melikyan, Y. Kumar Nakka, J. Nelson, M. Pazzini, M. Peticco, M. Prior-Jones, M. Robinson, C. Roman, R. Royce, M. Ryan, L. Shiraishi, C. Stenner, M. Strub, R. M. Swan, B. Swerdlow, R. Thakker, L. P. Tosi, T. Tran, T. Stegun Vaquero, M. Veismann, T. Wood, H. Zade, M. Ono, "2023 EELS Field Tests at Athabasca Glacier as an Icy Moon Analogue Environment," 2024 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 05 March 2024.
  3. M. Ono, R. Thakker, N. Georgiev, P. Gavrilov, A. Archanian, T. Drevinskas, G. Daddi, M. Paton, H. Melikyan, T. Pailevanian, C. Lopez, E. Ambrose, B. Jones, L. Tosi, M. Gildner, B. Hockman, D. Loret de Mola Lemus, D. Pastor Moreno, T. Hasseler, Y. Kumar Nakka, E. Marteau, B. Nuernberger, M. Peticco, M. Cable, P. Proenca, M. Malaska, J. Bowkett, A. Jasour, M. Ingham, J. Nash, D. Balentine, A. Barchowsky, F. Bevreng, K. Botteon, M. Caballero, K. Carpenter, M. Chodas, A. Daca, J. Feldman, A. Gardner, A. Goddu, A. Jain, C. Jin, M. Khanum, R. Kornfeld, G. Mark, B. Morrell, J. Naish, W. Reid and R. Etheredge, "To Boldly Go Where No Robots Have Gone Before – Part 1: EELS Robot to Spearhead a New One-Shot Exploration Paradigm with In-situ Adaptation," AIAA Scitech 2024 Forum, Orlando, Florida, USA, pp. 1-23, 08 January 2024.
  1. I. Nesnas, L. Kerber, G. Sellar, T. Balint, B. Denevi, A. Parness, R. Kornfeld, M. Smith, P. McGarey, T. Brown, E. Sunada, K. Gonter, B. Hockman, P. Hayne, T. Horvath, J. Hopkins, A. Johnson, R. Wagner, Y. Cheng, A. Curtis, K. Zacny, M. Paton, K. Sherrill, "Moon Diver: Exploring a pit's exposed strata to understand lunar volcanism," Acta Astronautica, Volume 211, pp. 163-176, 28 May 2023.
  1. J. Villa, J. McMahon, B. Hockman, I. Nesnas, "Autonomous Navigation and Dense Shape Reconstruction Using Stereophotogrammetry at Small Celestial Bodies," 2022 AAS Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Breckenridge, CO, USA, 08 February 2022.
  1. I. Nesnas, B. Hockman, S. Bandopadhyay, B. Morrell, D. Lubey, J. Villa, D. Bayard, A. Osmundson, B. Jarvis, M. Bersani, S. Bhaskaran, "Autonomous Exploration of Small Bodies Toward Greater Autonomy for Deep Space Missions," Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Volume 8, 650885, 01 November 2021.
  2. B. Jarvis, G. Choi, B. Hockman, B. Morrell, S. Bandopadhyay, D. Lubey, J. Villa, S. Bhaskaran, B. Bayard, I. Nesnas, "3D Shape Reconstruction of Small Bodies From Sparse Features," IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Volume 6, No. 4, pp. 7089-7096, 14 July 2021.
  1. B. Hockman, R. G. Reid, I. A. D. Nesnas, and M. Pavone, "Gravimetric Localization on the Surface of Small Bodies," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 January 2018.
  1. B. Hockman and M. Pavone, "Stochastic Motion Planning for Hopping Rovers on Small Solar System Bodies," Int. Symp. on Robotics Research, 01 January 2017.
  1. B. Hockman, A. Frick, I. A. D. Nesnas, and M. Pavone, "Design, Control, and Experimentation of Internally-Actuated Rovers for the Exploration of Low-Gravity Planetary Bodies," Journal of Field Robotics, vol. 34, no. 1, 5-24, 01 January 2016.