Skip Navigation


Eric Kulczycki


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

347B - Applied Robotic Systems

Eric Kulczycki

Member of Technical Staff


Eric Kulczycki is a Robotic Systems Engineer for the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section (347). His current activities focus on Sample transfer Subsystem on the SRL (Sample Retrieval and Launch) Mission as part of the Mars Sample Return Campaign. He is the Payload Interface Engineer and Payload Engineer for the Sample Transfer Arm for the SRL Mission. He works with the European Space Agency and manages in the interface from JPL to ESA for the Sample Transfer Arm.

Previously, he delivered the Hermetic Seal Assemblies on the Perseverance Rover, was the Principal Investigator for the Mars Sample Transfer Test-bed, Deputy Project Manager for the Chevron Smart Pipe, and Task Manager for DARPA AVM. He was the Mechanical Lead and CAM for the 360 NRIS (Non-rotating imaging system) reimbursable task. He was the Mechanical, Controls, and Dynamics lead for the Autonomous Titan Airship task. He has served as the Mechanical Lead engineer on many research and reimbursable tasks. He has held key roles and participated in over 40 field test experiments.

He received his dual BS in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautical Sciences from U.C. Davis in 2004. He finished his MS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at U.C. Davis in 2006.


M.S., M.A.E., University of California at Davis, 2006
B.S., M.E., University of California at Davis, 2004
B.S., A.E., University of California at Davis, 2004

Professional Experience


  • Principal Investigator – Mars Sample Transfer Testbed – SR&TD task
  • Cognizant Engineer – Mars 2020 SCS ACA Hermetic Seal
  • Payload Interface Engineer / Payload Engineer – JPL Interface to ESA STA for SRL Mission
  • Group Leader - 347C Extreme Environment Robotics
  • Technical Author – Returnable Sample Tube Assembly (RSTA) Definition Document for MSR
  • Deputy Project Manager –Chevron Smart Pipe
  • Mechanical Technical Lead/ Sub-Task Manager – ACTUV Task
  • Technical Lead - DARPA AVM Task at NASA-JPL
  • Task Manager/CAM - 360 NRIS - Mechanical Systems at NASA-JPL
  • Cognizant Engineer of Advanced MEMS subsystems at NASA-JPL

JPL Projects:
-Europa Orbiter 2001
-AXEL-2 2002
-PAARV 2003
-Aerobot Autonomy Task 2003-2011
-Team In-Situ 2003-2004
-MSR 2004
-Wide Area Prospecting 2005
-AAR 2005
-Planetary Protection Focus Tech. 2005
-Long Hole Drilling and Shoring 2006
-MSL Drilling Test Bed 3 2007
-VALOR+ Proposal Team 2008
-Venus Flagship Study - 2008
-USSV 2007-2010
-Photonics Mast 2008-2011
-LSOT/Moonrise 2010-2011
-AMD 2011-2012
-GEMS 2011-2012

-SRL Front End Payload Task 2011 -2012

-Active Night Time Stereo 2012-2013

-Pipe Robot Development 2013

-Primative Body Sample Chain 2012-2013

-DARPA AVM 2012 -2014

-ACTUV - 2012 - 2015

-Break the Chain 2014 -2015

-RTG Mobile MAV Study 2014-2015

-ROCS Atelier Study 2016

-Smart Pipe 2012-2016

-Mars Sample Transfer Test-bed 2014-2016

-ADT EIM 2016-2018

-Mars 2020 2016 - 2021

-Group Leader 347C 2018 - 2020

-MSR/SRL 2018 - Present

University of California Los Angeles 2011 - Lecturer - Robotics Systems Design and Engineering

U.C. Davis Projects
-Aerodesign West 2000-2005
Vice-Captain 2002
Captain 2003
Advisor 2004-2005

Research Interests

Manipulator and End Effector Design, Grasping Technologies, End-to-End Robotic Systems, Planetary robotic system design and development, Navigation and guidance of aerial, surface, and underwater mobility platforms. Advanced control system design and development for dynamic robotic systems. Dynamic modeling of robotic systems. In-Situ sample acquisition. Mobility platform mechanical design and concept development. Aircraft and airship design, testing, and integration.


  • Team Bonus Award for Mars Sample Transfer Testbed R&TD, 2016
  • Team Bonus Award for DARPA AVM Task, 2013
  • JPL Level C Bonus Award for Autonomous Aerobots work, 2006
  • Space Act Award – Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Tracking for application to Teleoperation, 2012
  • Team Bonus Award for Insight test bed Development Team, 2012
  • Team Bonus Award for Lunar Sample Return Robotics Demonstration Team, 2011
  • Team Bonus Award for MSL Test-bed 3, 2008
  • Team Bonus Award for Intelligent Autonomy Technology Transition Team, 2008
  • NASA Honors Team Award for Titan Aerobot Test-bed Team, 2009
  • NASA Honors Team Award for Phoenix Project Payload Team, 2009
  • Team Bonus Award for Intelligent Autonomy for USN Unmanned Surface Vehicles, 2009


  1. 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.
  1. Redmond, L., K. Kriechbaum, P. Younse, and E. Kulczycki, "Design of Robust Sealing Mechanism for Mars 2020 Sample Tubes," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 07 March 2020.
  2. T. Pham, W. Seto, S. Daftry, A. Brinkman, J. Mayo, C. Padgett, E. Kulczycki, R. Detry, "Rover Localization for Tube Pickup: Dataset, Methods and Validation for Mars Sample Return Planning," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 05 February 2020.
  1. E.A. Kulczycki, S.M. Koehler, A. Elfes, D.S. Bayard, M.B. Quadrelli, J.R. Johnson, "Development of an Analytical Parameterized Linear Lateral Dynamic Model for an Aerobot Airship," AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, AIAA-2011-6292, Portland, Oregon, 08 August 2011.
  1. Jeffery L. Hall, Michael T. Pauken, Viktor V. Kerzhanovich, Gerald J. Walsh, Eric A. Kulczycki, Debora Fairbrother, Chris Shreves and Tim Lachenmeier, "Mars Balloon Flight Test Results," AIAA Paper 2009-2809 presented at the AIAA Balloon Systems Conference, Seattle, WA, 4-7 May, 2009., 01 May 2009.
  1. A. Elfes, J. Hall, E. Kulczycki, D. Clouse, A. Morfopoulos, J. Montgomery, J. Cameraon, A. Ansar, R. Machuzak, "An Autonomy Architecture for Aerobot Exploration of the Saturnian Moon Titan," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 January 2007.