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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. 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.
  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.