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Kam Tso


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





Kam S Tso

Member of Technical Staff


Kam Tso is a member of the Robotics Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization Group at JPL. He has worked on a variety of robotics research projects including the JPL Telerobot, Remote Surface Inspection, and Web Interface for Telescience. He currently works on the MoonRise project responsible for the control and simulation for robotic sample acquisition.


Ph.D. in Computer Science, 1987 (UCLA)
M.S. in Electronics Engineering, 1981 (Philips International Institute)
B.S. in Electronics, 1979 (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Professional Experience

- Led the development of the Web Interface for Telescience (WITS) to enable mission scientists and planners to collaboratively plan and simulate Mars rover and lander missions over the Internet. WITS was selected for planning and control of the Robotic Arm and Surface Stereo Imager in the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) Mission. WITS was demonstrated in the 1997 JavaOne Conference and received the Runner-Up award in the 1998 NASA Software of Year Competition.
- Co-developer of an interactive user interface, User-Macro-Interface (UMI), and its complete task execution system, to describe, simulate, and execute tasks on a multi-arm telerobot. The operator interactively sets up the execution environment and specifies input parameters for a variety of available task primitives. Several task primitives can be stored together as a task sequence for later sequence execution. The invention was awarded United States Patent 5,231,693 in 1993.
- Principal investigator of MIIIRO (Multi-Modal Immersive Intelligent Interface for Remote Operation), an agent-based intelligent operator interface for controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in performing surveillance tasks. The interface accepts multimodal inputs, including joystick, head tracker and voice. An information mediator network is used to enable the coordination among the intelligent agents.
- Principal investigator of the PLEXIL Plan Editor and Execution Monitor (PPEEM) for visualizing and editing PLEXIL plans and monitoring their execution. PLEXIL is a new execution language that has been designed by NASA specifically for flexible and safe command execution for robotic systems such as those for lunar and Mars missions. PPEEM is developed based on model-driven development methodology using the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) and Graphical Editing Framework (GEF).
- Led the effort in system capacity measurement, performance bottleneck identification, benchmark-driven performance tuning, and development of clustering technologies for a data-intensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) emergency-response application to support thousands of concurrent web users. The application was developed using software technologies that include Java, Eclipse, Spring, Hibernate, Ehcache, JDBC, Web Service, JSF, XML, XSL, JavaScript, and Oracle.

Research Interests

High-fidelity physics-based modeling, simulation, and visualization;
control and operator interface of mobility and robotic systems;
dependable, distributed, realtime, web-based, software systems.


  1. A. Trebi-Ollennu, K. S. Ali, A. L. Rankin, K. S. Tso, C. Assad, J. B. Matthews, R. G. Deen, D. A. Alexander, R. Toda, H. Manohara, M. Wolf, J. R. Wright, J. Yen, F. Hartman, R. G. Bonitz, and A. R. Sirota, "Lunar Surface Operation Testbed (LSOT)," Proceedings of IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2012.
  1. K. S. Tso, M. J. Pajevski, and B. Johnson, "Access control of Web and Java based applications," Proceedings of the IEEE 17th Pacific Rim International Symposium on Dependable Computing, 320-325, 01 December 2011.
  2. J. Balaram, J. Cameron, A. Jain, C. Lim, H. Mazhar, S. Myint, H. Nayar, R. Patton, M. Pomerantz, M. Quadrelli, P. Shakkotai, and K. Tso, "Physics-based simulator for NEO exploration analysis and simulation," Proceedings of AIAA SPACE 2011 Conference & Exposition, 01 September 2011.
  1. K. S. Tso, A. T. Tai, Y. M. Deng, and P. G. Backes, "Multiuser collaboration with networked mobile devices," Proceedings of the 25th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 01 October 2006.
  1. K. S. Tso, A. T. Tai, S. N. Chau, and L. Alkalai, "On automating failure mode analysis and enhancing its integrity," Proceedings of the IEEE 11th Pacific Rim International Symposium on Dependable Computing, 287-292, 01 December 2005.
  2. V. Verma, T. Estlin, A. Jonsson, C. Pasareanu, R. Simmons, K. Tso, "Plan execution interchange language (PLEXIL) for executable plans and command sequences," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2005.
  1. L. Pullum, M. Darrah, S. T. Skias, K. S. Tso, and A. T. Tai, "Developing a data driven prognostic system with limited system information," Proceedings of the 8th IEEE International Symposium on High Assurance Systems Engineering, 01 March 2004.
  1. K. S. Tso, G. K. Tharp, A. T. Tai, M. H. Draper, G. L. Calhoun, and H. A. Ruff, "A human factors testbed for command and control of unmanned air vehicles," 8C1.1-8C1.12, 01 October 2003.
  2. P. G. Backes, J. S. Norris, M. Powell, K. S. Tso, G. K. Tharp, and P. C. Leger, "Sequence planning for the FIDO Mars rover prototype," Proceedings of IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2003.
  1. A. T. Tai, K. S. Tso, L. Alkalai, S. N. Chau, and W. H. Sanders, "Low-cost error containment and recovery for onboard guarded software upgrading and beyond," IEEE Trans. Computers, 121-137, 01 February 2002.
  1. A. T. Tai, K. S. Tso, L. Alkalai, S. N. Chau, and W. H. Sanders, "On the effectiveness of a message-driven confidence-driven protocol for guarded software upgrading," 211-236, 01 April 2001.
  2. P. G. Backes, K. S. Tso, J. S. Norris, and G. K. Tharp, "Internet-based ground operations for Mars lander and rover missions," in Beyond Webcams: An Introduction to Online Robots," Beyond Webcams: An Introduction to Online Robots, 227-240, 01 January 2001.
  1. Paul G. Backes, Kam S. Tso, Jeffrey S. Norris, Gregory K. Tharp, Jeffrey T. Slostad, Robert G. Bonitz, and Khaled S. Ali, "Internet-Based Operations for the Mars Polar Lander Mission," Proc. of the 2000 IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation, 01 April 2000.
  2. P. G. Backes, K. S. Tso, J. S. Norris, G. K. Tharp, J. T. Slostad, and R. G. Bonitz, "Mars Polar Lander Mission distributed operations," Proceedings of IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2000.
  1. K. S. Tso, G. K. Tharp, W. Zhang, and A. T. Tai, "A multi-agent operator interface for unmanned aerial vehicles," Proceedings of the 18th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 6A4.1-6A4.8, 01 October 1999.
  2. P. G. Backes, K. S. Tso, and G. K. Tharp, "The Web Interface for Telescience," Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 531-539, 01 October 1999.
  1. S. Hayati, J. Balaram, H. Seraji, W. S. Kim, and K. Tso, "Remote surface inspection system," International Journal of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 45-59, 01 May 1993.
  1. S. Hayati, T. S. Lee, K. S. Tso, P. G. Backes, and J. Lloyd, "A unified teleoperated-autonomous dual-arm robotic system," IEEE Control Systems, 3-8, 01 February 1991.