Skip Navigation


Masahiro (Hiro) Ono


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

347F - Robotic Mobility

Masahiro (Hiro) Ono

Group Supervisor


Masahiro (Hiro) Ono is the Group Leader of the Robotic Surface Mobility Group. His broad interest is centered around the application of autonomy for space missions, with an emphasis on enhancing the safety, efficiency, and performance of robotic mobility though the applications of risk-aware decision making and machine learning.

Since he joined JPL in 2013, he has led a number of research projects on Mars rover autonomy, as well as three NIAC studies on Enceladus Vent Explorer (Phase I and II) and Comet Hitchhiker (Phase I). Hiro was a flight software developer of M2020’s Enhanced AutoNav and the lead of M2020 Landing Site Traversability Analysis. He also led the development of a machine learning-based Martian terrain classifier, SPOC (Soil Property and Object Classification), which won JPLs Software of the Year Award in 2020. 


- PhD, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012
- MS, Technology and Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012
- MS, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007
- BS, Aeronautics and Astronautics, The University of Tokyo, 2005

Professional Experience

- Research Technologist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (2013 - )
- Research Associate (equivalent of tenure-track faculty), Keio University (2012-2013)

Research Interests

Robotic autonomy, surface mobility, machine learning, path planning, risk-aware planning

Papers (Google Scholar):

- SPOC Lite (terrain classifier for Mars rovers):
- MAARS (Machine learning-based analytics for automated rover systems):


  1. T. S. Vaquero, G. Daddi, R. Thakker, M. Paton, A. Jasour, M. Strub, R. M. Swan, R. Royce, M. Gildner, P. Tosi, M. Veismann, P. Gavrilov, E. Marteau, J. Bowkett, D. Loret de Mola Lemus, Y. Kumar Nakka, B. Hockman, A. Orekhov, T. Hasseler, C. Leake, B. Nuernberger, P. Proenca, W. Reid, W. Talbot, N. Georgiev, T. Pailevanian, A. Archanian, E. Ambrose, J. Jasper, R. Etheredge, C. Roman, D. Levine, K. Otsu, S. Yearicks, H. Melikyan, R. Rieber, K. Carpenter, J. Nash, A. Jain, L. Shiraishi, M. Robinson, M. Travers, H. Choset, J. Burdick, A. Gardner, M. Cable, M. Ingham, and M. Ono, "EELS: Autonomous Snake-like Robot with Task and Motion Planning Capabilities for Ice World Exploration," Science Robotics, vol. 9, no. 88, 13 March 2024.
  2. M. Paton, R. Rieber, S. Cruz, M. Gildner, C. Abma, K. Abma, S. Aghli, E. Ambrose, A. Archanian, E. Bagshaw, C. Baroco, A. Blackstock, J. Bowkett, M. Cable, E. Cartaya, G. Daddi, T. Drevinskas, R. Etheredge, T. Gall, A. Gardner, P. Gavrilov, N. Georgiev, K. Graham, B. Hockman, B. Jones, S. Linn, M. Malaska, E. Marteau, N. Maslen, H. Melikyan, Y. Kumar Nakka, J. Nelson, M. Pazzini, M. Peticco, M. Prior-Jones, M. Robinson, C. Roman, R. Royce, M. Ryan, L. Shiraishi, C. Stenner, M. Strub, R. M. Swan, B. Swerdlow, R. Thakker, L. P. Tosi, T. Tran, T. Stegun Vaquero, M. Veismann, T. Wood, H. Zade, M. Ono, "2023 EELS Field Tests at Athabasca Glacier as an Icy Moon Analogue Environment," 2024 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 05 March 2024.
  3. M. Ono, R. Thakker, N. Georgiev, P. Gavrilov, A. Archanian, T. Drevinskas, G. Daddi, M. Paton, H. Melikyan, T. Pailevanian, C. Lopez, E. Ambrose, B. Jones, L. Tosi, M. Gildner, B. Hockman, D. Loret de Mola Lemus, D. Pastor Moreno, T. Hasseler, Y. Kumar Nakka, E. Marteau, B. Nuernberger, M. Peticco, M. Cable, P. Proenca, M. Malaska, J. Bowkett, A. Jasour, M. Ingham, J. Nash, D. Balentine, A. Barchowsky, F. Bevreng, K. Botteon, M. Caballero, K. Carpenter, M. Chodas, A. Daca, J. Feldman, A. Gardner, A. Goddu, A. Jain, C. Jin, M. Khanum, R. Kornfeld, G. Mark, B. Morrell, J. Naish, W. Reid and R. Etheredge, "To Boldly Go Where No Robots Have Gone Before – Part 1: EELS Robot to Spearhead a New One-Shot Exploration Paradigm with In-situ Adaptation," AIAA Scitech 2024 Forum, Orlando, Florida, USA, pp. 1-23, 08 January 2024.
  4. R. Thakker, M. Paton, M. Strub, M. Swan, T. Vaquero, B. Jones, G. Daddi, R. Royce, J. Bowkett, D. Loret de Mola Lemus, D. Pastor Moreno, Y. Kumar Nakka, K. Otsu, T. Hasseler, C. Leake, B. Nuernberger, P. Proenca, W. Talbot, A. Orekhov, A. Jain, M. Robinson, R. Etheredge, M. Travers, H. Choset, M. Ingham, J. Burdick and M. Ono, "To Boldly Go Where No Robots Have Gone Before – Part 4: NEO Autonomy for Robustly Exploring Unknown, Extreme Environments with Versatile Robots," AIAA Scitech 2024 Forum, Orlando, Florida, USA, pp. 1-14, 08 January 2024.
  1. W. Talbot, J. Nash, M. Paton, E. Ambrose, B. Metz, R. Thakker, R. Etheredge, M. Ono, V. Ila, "Principled ICP Covariance Modelling in Perceptually Degraded Environments for the EELS Mission Concept," 2023 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pp. 10763-10770, 01 October 2023.
  2. Abhishek Cauligi, R. Michael Swan, Masahiro Ono, Shreyansh Daftry, John Elliott, Larry Matthies, Deegan Atha, "ShadowNav: Crater-Based Localization for Nighttime and Permanently Shadowed Region Lunar Navigation," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 04 March 2023.
  1. Shreyansh Daftry, Neil Abcouwer, Tyler Del Sesto, Siddarth Venkatraman, Jialin Song, Lucas Igel, Amos Byon, Ugo Rosolia, Yisong Yue, Masahiro Ono, "MLNav: Learning to Safely Navigate on Martian Terrains," IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 07 March 2022.
  2. V. Verma, F. Hartman, A. Rankin, M. Maimone, T. Del Sesto, O. Toupet, E. Graser, S. Myint, K. Davis, D. Klein, J. Koch, S. Brooks, P. Bailey , H. Justice, M. Dolci, H. Ono, "First 210 solar days of Mars Perseverance Robotic Operations - Mobility, Robotics Arm, Sampling, and Helicopter," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 05 March 2022.
  3. Larry Matthies, Shreyansh Daftry, Scott Tepsuporn, Yang Cheng, Deegan Atha, R. Michael Swan Sanjna Ravichandar and Masahiro Ono, "Lunar Rover Localization Using Craters as Landmarks," IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO), 05 March 2022.
  4. D. Atha, R. M. Swan, A. Didier, Z. Hasnain, M. Ono, "Multi-mission Terrain Classifier for Safe Rover Navigation and Automated Science," 2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO), pp. 1-13, 05 March 2022.
  5. K. Hand, C. Phillips, A. Murray, et al., "Science Goals and Mission Architecture of the Europa Lander Mission Concept," The Planetary Science Journal, vol. 3, iss. 1, 26 January 2022.
  1. K. Carpenter, M. Cable, M. Choukroun, H. Ono, R. Thakker, M. Ingham, P. McGarey, A. Barchowski, S. Iacoponi, J. Bowkett, W. Reid, E. Marteou, "Venture Deep, the Path of Least Resistance: Crevasse-Based Ocean Access Without the Need to Dig or Drill," Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 356, 01 January 2021.
  2. R. M. Swan, D. Atha, H. Leopold, M. Gildner, S. Oij, C. Chiu, and M. Ono, "AI4MARS: A Dataset for Terrain-Aware Autonomous Driving on Mars," Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, pp. 1982-1991, 01 January 2021.