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James Montgomery


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 125-209
Pasadena, CA 91109





James Montgomery

Member of Technical Staff


James Montgomery is a Senior Member of Technical Staff at JPL and is a member of the Robotic Software Systems Group (3472) in the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section. He has more than 10 years of experience in mobile robotics research and development and over 20 years of experience in software systems development for engineering applications, primarily in the fields of real-time embedded control, and signal and image processing. Since joining JPL, he has led the design, development and field testing of the JPL Autonomous Helicopter Testbed. He has also been involved in numerous technology development tasks for ground and aerial robots as well as planetary landing systems.


Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Southern California, 1999

M.S., Computer Science, University of Southern California, 1992

B.S., (with distinction), Computer Science, University of Michigan, 1986

Professional Experience

Senior Member Technical Staff, Robotics Software Systems Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, 8/05-present

Senior Member Technical Staff, Machine Vision Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, 10/00-8/05

Staff Engineer, Raytheon Company, El Segundo, CA, 3/97-10/00

Staff Engineer, Hughes Aircraft Company, El Segundo, CA, 2/87-3/97

Co-op/Internship Student, Hughes Aircraft Company, El Segundo, CA, summers '84, '85, '86

Research Interests

Developing and field-testing autonomy technologies that enable advanced capabilities for ground and aerial robots as well as planetary landing systems. Past and current research includes safe, precise and pin-point landing on planetary bodies, guidance and control of aerial robots (helicopters and aerobots) and performance evaluation and validation of rover mobility algorithms


  1. A. Johnson, A. Huertas, R. Werner and J. Montogomery, "Analysis of On-Board Hazard Detection and Avoidance for Safe Lunar Landing," 2008 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MO, Mar. 2008., 17 September 2020.
  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.
  1. J.F. Montgomery, A.E. Johnson, L.H. Matthies and S.I. Roumeliotis, "The JPL Autonomous Helicopter Testbed: A Platform for Planetary Exploration Technology Research and Development," Journal of Field Robotics (accepted), 01 January 2006.
  1. A. Elfes, J. Montgomery, J. Hall, S. Joshi, J. Payne, C. Bergh, "Autonomous Flight Control for a Titan Exploration Aerobot," 8th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 September 2005.
  2. A.E. Johnson, J.F. Montgomery and L.H. Matthies, "Vision Guided Landing of an Autonomous Helicopter in Hazardous Terrain," IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation, 01 January 2005.
  1. K. Harbick, J.F. Montgomery and G.S. Sukhatme, "Planar Spline Trajectory Following for an Autonomous Helicopter," In Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence - Computational Intelligence in Robotics and Automation, 8(3), 237-42, 01 May 2004.
  1. S. Saripalli, J.F. Montgomery and G.S. Sukhatme, "Visually-Guided Landing of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle," In IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, 19(3), 371-381, 01 June 2003.
  1. S. Saripalli, G.S. Sukhatme and J.F. Montgomery, "A Testbed for Mars Precision Landing Experiments by Emulating Spacecraft Dynamics on a Model Helicopter," In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2097-102, 01 October 2002.
  2. S.I. Roumeliotis, A.E. Johnson, and J.F. Montgomery, "Augmenting Inertial Navigation with Image-Based Motion Estimation," In Proceedings 2002 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Washington D.C., 4326-33, 11 May 2002.
  1. G.S. Sukhatme, J.F. Montgomery and R.T. Vaughn, "Experiments with Aerial-Ground Robots," In Robot Teams: From Diversity to Polymorphism, T. Balch and L.E. Parker (eds.), AK Peters, 01 January 2001.
  1. J.F. Montgomery, "Learning Helicopter Control Through 'Teaching by Showing," Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California, 01 May 1999.
  1. J.F. Montgomery, A.H. Fagg and G.A. Bekey, "The USC AFV-I: A Behavior-Based Entry in the 1994 International Aerial Robotics Competition," IEEE Expert, 10(2), 16-22, 01 April 1995.