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Edward Tunstel


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219
Pasadena, CA 91109





Edward Tunstel

Senior Robotics Engineer


Dr. Tunstel received the B.S. and M.E. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, with a concentration in robotics, from Howard University. His thesis addressed the use of symbolic computation for automated modeling of robotic manipulators / arms. In 1989 he joined the Robotic Intelligence Group at JPL supporting research and development activities on NASA planetary rover projects. As a JPL Fellow he received the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico (UNM), where he became affiliated with the NASA Center for Autonomous Control Engineering (ACE). His dissertation addresses distributed fuzzy control of adaptive hierarchical behavior-based systems and its application to mobile robot navigation.
In his current capacity as a Senior Robotics Engineer, he directs engineering activities for robotics technology development. He also develops autonomous control and navigation algorithms, software, and systems for planetary rover research and flight projects. He recently served as Lead Systems Engineer for the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover technology task. Other recent and current assignments include the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) flight project, Task Manager for a study on disseminating NASA robotics software to universities, researcher for a study on future large space telescope technology, JPL PI/Task Manager for distributed science instrument system mobility and surveying, and Robotics Space Exploration Technology Program management assistance. For the MER mission, he served as a Flight Systems Engineer specializing in surface mobility & autonomous navigation, and now serves on the surface operations Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team as Lead of its mobility and robotic arm sub-element.
Dr. Tunstel has authored over 100 journal, book chapter and conference publications, and has edited 3 books in his areas of expertise. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and member-at-large of the IEEE SMC Society Board of Governors. He is also a NSBE member-at-large and Chief Technologist of NSBE Space, an alumni special interest group of NSBE. He has held memberships in the AAAI, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, the New York Academy of Sciences, and ASME. He is an Associate Editor and Editorial Board Member of four international engineering journals. He has also served as NASA Technical Monitor for undergraduate student research programs and for NASA Faculty Awards for Research as well as co-advisor and committee member for graduate thesis and dissertation research at several universities.


Ph.D. Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico
M.E. Mechanical Engineering, Howard University, Washington, DC
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Howard University, Washington, DC

Professional Experience

Twenty years of engineering research and development in robotics, automation, and applications of computational and artificial intelligence to autonomous control systems. Experienced as senior control and navigation researcher and software/ systems engineer on major robotics projects and NASA flight missions. Team leadership and independent research experience on robot prototype design, fabrication, programming, integration, experimentation and validation projects as well as flight system development and planetary surface operations. Experienced as writer, reviewer, and editor of engineering publications and research proposals as well as professional society meeting organizer.
Task Manager, Distributed Spectrometer Mobility & Surveying (2004-)
Surface Ops Lead, Mobility/Robotic Arm Subsystem: MER Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team (2003-)
Task Manager, University Robotics Software Study (2002-2003)
Flight Systems Engineer: MER Surface Mission Phase Team, Autonomous Navigation (2001-2003)
Lead System Engineer: FIDO Rover (2000-2002)
Co-Investigator: Safe Navigation of Planetary Rovers on Challenging Terrain (1998-2000)
Flight Software Engineer: MUSES-CN Asteroid Rover Project (1998-2000)
Cognizant/Software Engineer: Nanorover Technology/Nanorover Outposts (1997-2000)
JPL Fellow, UNM (1992-1996)
GDS Software Engineer: TOPEX/Poseidon (1990-1992)
AI/Robotics Researcher: Robby-Rocky Series Rovers (1989-1992)
Flight Projects
Current: Mars Exploration Rovers
Past: MUSES-CN, TOPEX/Poseidon

Research Interests

Mobile robot navigation, autonomous control, cooperative robotics, and applications of fuzzy logic and other soft computing techniques to intelligent control systems synthesis.

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Research Tasks
Distributed Spectroscopy for Mobile Science Laboratories


  1. A. Howard and E. Tunstel, Editors, "<u>Intelligence for Space Robotics</u>," TSI Press, San Antonio, TX, 01 January 2006.
  2. C.D. Bowman, S.H. Lievense, E. Tunstel, E. Chalfant and J. Norris, "NASA Robotics Education: Inspiring the next generation of explorers," International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing, Special Issue: Global Look at Robotics Education, (to appear), 01 January 2006.
  1. Jeffrey J. Biesiadecki and Eric T. Baumgartner and Robert G. Bonitz and Brian K. Cooper and Frank R. Hartman and P. Christopher Leger and Mark W. Maimone and Scott A. Maxwell and Ashitey Trebi-Ollenu and Edward W. Tunstel and John R. Wright., "Mars Exploration Rover Surface Operations: Driving Opportunity at Meridiani Planum," October 2005 IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics conference proceedings, Hawaii, USA., 10 October 2005.
  2. Tunstel, Maimone, Trebi-Ollennu, Yen, Petras, and Willson, "Mars Exploration Rover Mobility and Robotic Arm Operational Performance," October 2005 IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics conference proceedings, Hawaii, USA., 10 October 2005.
  3. E. Tunstel, A. Howard, M. Maimone, A. Trebi-Ollenu, "Mars exploration rover performance as a baseline for flight Rover autonomy technology assessment," 8th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics And Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), 01 January 2005.
  4. E. Tunstel, A. Howard, M. Maimone and A. Trebi-Ollennu, "Mars Exploration Rover Baseline for Flight Rover Autonomy Technology Assessment," 8th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Automation in Space, Munich, Germany, 01 January 2005.
  5. T. Huntsberger, H. Aghazarian and E. Tunstel, "Onboard Adaptive Learning for Planetary Surface Rover Control in Rough Terrain," IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Barcelona, Spain, 01 January 2005.
  1. E. Tunstel, T. Huntsberger and E. Baumgartner, "Earth-Based Rover Field Testing for Exploration Missions on Mars," Proc. World Automation Congress, International Symposium on Robotics with Applications, Vol. 15, Seville, Spain, pp. 307-312, 01 January 2004.
  1. Tunstel, E., Howard, A., Huntsberger, T.,Trebi-Ollennu, A. and Dolan, J.M, "Applied Soft Computing Strategies for Autonomous Field Robotics," in C. Zhou, D. Maravall, and D. Ruan (Eds.), Autonomous Robotic Systems: Soft Computing and Hard Computing Methodologies and Applications, Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing Series, Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg; New York, 01 January 2003.
  2. Tunstel, E., "Autonomous Mobility Software Validation Challenges for Planetary Surface Missions," Int'l Conf. on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology, Pasadena, CA, pp. 167-173, 01 January 2003.
  3. E. Tunstel, A. Howard, "Approximate Reasoning for Safety and Survivability of Planetary Rovers," Fuzzy Sets and Systems, Special Issue: Fuzzy Set Techniques for Intelligent Robotic Systems, Vol. 134, No. 1, 27-46, 01 January 2003.
  1. T. Huntsberger, H. Aghazarian, Y. Cheng, E.T. Baumgartner, E. Tunstel, C. Leger, A. Trebi-Ollennu and P.S. Schenker, "Rover Autonomy for Long Range Navigation and Science Data Acquisition on Planetary Surfaces," IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Washington, DC, pp. 3161-3168, 01 January 2002.
  2. E. Tunstel, A. Howard, and H. Seraji, "Rule-Based Reasoning and Neural Network Perception for Safe Off-Road Mobility," Expert Systems: The International Journal of Knowledge Engineering and Neural Networks, Vol. 19, No. 4, 191-200, 01 January 2002.
  3. E. Tunstel, T. Huntsberger, H. Aghazarian, P. Backes, E. Baumgartner, Y, Cheng, M. Garrett, B. Kennedy, C. Leger, L. Magnone, J. Norris, M. Powell, A. Trebi-Ollennu and P. Schenker, "FIDO Rover Field Trials as Rehearsal for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover Mission," 9th Intl. Symp. on Robotics & Applications, 5th World Automation Congress, Orlando, FL, 01 January 2002.
  4. E. Tunstel, M.A.A. de Oliveira, and S. Berman, "Fuzzy Behavior Hierarchies for Multi-Robot Control," International Journal of Intelligent Systems, Special Issue: Hierarchical Fuzzy Systems, Vol. 17, No. 5, 449-470, 01 January 2002.
  1. H. Seraji, A. Howard and E. Tunstel, "Terrain-based Navigation of Mobile Robots: A fuzzy logic approach," 6th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, Montreal, Canada, 01 January 2001.
  2. E. Tunstel, "Fuzzy-Behavior Synthesis, Coordination, and Evolution in an Adaptive Behavior Hierarchy," in Saffiotti, A. and Driankov, D. (Eds.) Fuzzy Logic Techniques for Autonomous Vehicle Navigation, Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing Series, Vol. 61, Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg; New York, 01 January 2001.
  3. P. Schenker, T. Huntsberger, P. Pirjanian, E. Baumgartner, H. Aghazarian, A. Trebi-Ollennu, P. Leger, Y. Cheng, P. Backes, E. Tunstel, S. Dubowsky, K. Iagnemma and G. McKee, "Robotic Automation for Space: Planetary surface exploration, terrain-adaptive mobility, and multi-robot cooperative tasks," Proc. SPIE Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision XX: Algorithms, Techniques, and Active Vision Conference, Vol. #4572, 01 January 2001.
  4. A. Howard, E. Tunstel, D. Edwards and A. Carlson, "Enhancing Fuzzy Robot Navigation Systems by Mimicking Human Visual Perception of Natural Terrain Traversability," Joint 9th IFSA World Congress/20th NAFIPS International Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 01 January 2001.
  5. E. Tunstel, H. Seraji and A. Howard, "Soft computing approach to safe navigation of autonomous planetary rovers," in A. Zilouchian & M. Jamshidi (Eds.), <u>Intelligent Control Systems Using Soft Computing Methodologies</u>, CRC Press LLC, 01 January 2001.
  6. E. Tunstel, "Ethology as an Inspiration for Adaptive Behavior Synthesis in Autonomous Planetary Rovers," Autonomous Robots, Special Issue on Biomorphic Robotics, Vol. 11, No. 3, 333-339, 01 January 2001.
  1. E. Tunstel, "Evolution of Autonomous Self-Righting Behaviors for Articulated Nanorovers," 5th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), Noordwijk, The Netherlands, pp. 341-346, 01 January 1999.
  2. E. Tunstel, "Fuzzy-Behavior Modulation with Threshold Activation for Autonomous Vehicle Navigation," 18th International Conference of the North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society (NAFIPS), New York, NY, pp. 776-780, 01 January 1999.
  3. T. Estlin. S. Hayati, A. Jain, J. Yen, G. Rabideau, R. Castano, R. Petras, S. Peters, D. Decoste, E. Tunstel, S. Chien, E. Mjolsness, R. Steele, D. Mutz, A. Gray and T. Mann, "An Integrated Architecture for Cooperating Rovers," 5th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, pp. 255-262, 01 January 1999.
  1. E. Tunstel, R. Welch and B. Wilcox, "Embedded Control of a Miniature Science Rover for Planetary Exploration," 7th International Symposium on Robotics with Applications, 3rd World Automation Congress, Anchorage, Alaska, 01 January 1998.
  1. E. Tunstel, H. Danny, T. Lippincott and M. Jamshidi, "Fuzzy Behavior-based Navigation for Planetary Microrovers," Proc. of the NASA University Research Center Technical Conference, Albuquerque, NM, pp. 729-734, 01 February 1997.
  2. E. Tunstel and M. Jamshidi, "Intelligent Control and Evolution of Mobile Robot Behavior," in Jamshidi, Titli, Zadeh, & Boverie (Eds.) <u>Applications of Fuzzy Logic: Towards High Machine Intelligent Quotient Systems</u>, Volume 8, Prentice-Hall Series on Environmental & Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, 01 January 1997.
  3. E. Tunstel, T. Lippincott and M. Jamshidi, "Behavior Hierarchy for Autonomous Mobile Robots: Fuzzy-behavior modulation and evolution," International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 37-49, 01 January 1997.
  4. H. Xue, M. Jamshidi and E. Tunstel, "Genetic Algorithms for Optimization of Fuzzy Systems in Prediction and Control," International Journal of Knowledge-Based Intelligent Engineering Systems, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 13-21, 01 January 1997.
  1. E. Tunstel, "Mobile Robot Autonomy via Hierarchical Fuzzy Behavior Control," 6th Intl. Symp. on Robotics & Manuf., WAC'96, Montpellier, France, pp. 837-842, 01 May 1996.
  2. E. Tunstel, T. Lippincott and M. Jamshidi, "Introduction to Fuzzy Logic With Application to Mobile Robotics," Proc. 1st National Students Conference of the National Alliance of NASA University Research Centers, NC A&T State Univ., Greensboro, NC, 01 January 1996.
  3. E. Tunstel, M. Jamshidi, "On Genetic Programming of Fuzzy Rule-based Systems for Intelligent Control," International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 273-284, 01 January 1996.
  1. E. Tunstel, "Coordination of Distributed Fuzzy Behaviors in Mobile Robot Control," IEEE Intl. Conf. on Systems, Man, & Cybernetics, Vancouver, BC, Canada, pp. 4009-4014, 01 October 1995.
  1. J.M. Cameron, E. Tunstel, T. Nguyen and B.K. Cooper, "Manipulator Control for Rover Planetary Exploration," SPIE Cooperative Intelligent Robotics in Space III, V. 1829, Boston, MA, pp. 495-504, 01 January 1992.
  2. N. Vira and E. Tunstel, "Use of Symbolic Computation in Robotics Education," IEEE Transactions on Education, v. 35 no. 1, pp. 18-30, 01 January 1992.
  1. E. Tunstel and N. Vira, "An Interactive Program for Symbolic Kinematic Solution of Industrial Robots," International Journal of Applied Engineering Education, Vol. 5 No. 5, pp 577-585, 01 January 1989.