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Issa Nesnas is the Group Supervisor for the Robotic Software Systems group and the Principal Investigator of the multi-institutional robotic software architecture (CLARAty). He has over 15 years of experience in robotic system and software design, sensor-based robotic control, and vision-guided manipulation.
Issa joined JPL in 1997 where he worked on planetary dexterous manipulation for rovers and landers. He developed algorithms for vision-based manipulation, sample acquisition, and instrument placement from rover platforms. He was the Cognizant engineer on CLARAty from 1999 to 2001. More recently, Issa has led several research tasks including rover-based visual tracking and the development of the Rocky 8 and Axel rovers. He also worked on the entry, descent, and landing for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Prior to joining JPL in 1997, Issa was a senior project engineer at Adept Technology, Inc. inventing and implementing several new technologies for high-speed vision-based robotic applications. He holds a patent for the Impulse-based flexible parts feeder. He also participated in the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences Consortium working with industry leaders in factory automation including Eastman Kodak, Ford, GM, Delco Electronics, and Cummins Engine, designing hardware and software standards for robotic assembly cells.
Issa received a B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College, NY, in 1991, and earned the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in robotics from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Notre Dame, IN, in 1993 and 1995 respectively.
Issa Nesnas is a principal technologist and the supervisor of the Robotic Mobility group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with over two decades of experience in space robotics and industrial automation. He leads research in autonomy and mobility with a focus on extreme terrain access and microgravity mobility. He recently served on NASA’s Capability Leadership Team for Autonomy and was the co-chair for NASA’s Technology Roadmaps for Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Dr. Nesnas contributed to the development of autonomous rover navigation and visual target tracking and participated in the development of the Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. He led the development of the CLARAty robotic autonomy architecture and the Athena, Rocky 8, Axel and Hedgehog rovers. His background and earlier research focused on dexterous mobile manipulation where he developed algorithms for vision-based manipulation and sample handling for rovers and industrial platforms. In the early phases, he also worked on the entry, descent, and landing for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Dr. Nesnas received a B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College, NY, in 1991, and earned the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in robotics from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Notre Dame, IN, in 1993 and 1995 respectively. His research interests are in autonomy, system and software architecture, and perception-based control under large uncertainties.
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (1995) from the University of Notre Dame, IN
Research Area: Dexterous and force control for redundant manipulators
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1993) from the University of Notre Dame, IN
Research Area: Vision-based manipulation and trajectory following
B.E. in Electrical Engineering (1991) from Manhattan College, NY
Ranked first in the School of Engineering and graduated Summa Cum Laude
Research Area: Microcontroller design for a robotic arm
Principal Investigator and Task Manager for the CLARAty on-board robotic control software (2001 - present)
Cognizant Engineer for robotic software (CLARAty) (Feb 2000 - Aug 2001)
Principal Investigator for several robotic technologies (June 2000 - Sep 2004)
Cognizant Engineer for LIDAR Subsystem (Apr 2000 - Aug 2001)
Robotics Engineer for Autonomous Dexterous Manipulation (Dec 1997 - Nov 1999)
Senior Project Engineer at Adept Technology, Inc. (Aug 1995 - Dec 1997)