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Matthew Heverly


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 107-
Pasadena, CA 91109





Matthew Heverly

Member of Technical Staff


In 1999 Matt received his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. That same year he joined an industrial aerospace company in Pasadena (Alliance Spacesystems Inc.) where he worked on several R&D as well as space flight robotic hardware projects.
In 2003 Matt left ASI to pursue a masters degree in controls from Boston University. Matts research at BU focused on medical applications of robotics, specifically for prenatal heart surgery.
In the spring of 2005 Matt joined the Robotic Hardware Systems group at JPL. From 2005 - 2010 Matt was the chief mechanical engineer for the ATHLETE hex legged rover. During this time Matt was also working on surface operations for the Mars Exploration Rovers as a Rover Planner sending tactical mobility and IDD commands to drive the rovers and operate their robotic arms on the surface of Mars.
Matt is currently the mobility systems engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. In this role he works with the mobility hardware and software development teams to ensure the vehicle will properly operate once it reaches the surface of Mars.
Matt is also a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and teaches a class in mechanical engineering design.


M.S. Mechanical Engineering (2005)
Boston University
B.S. Mechanical Engineering (1999)
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Professional Experience

JPL (2010 - Present)

  • MSL mobility systems engineer
    JPL (2005 - 2010)

    • Mechanical design of the ATHLETE hex legged rover
    • MER surface operations (rover driver)
    • Design of a high precision interferometer scan mechanism

    Alliance Spacesystems Inc. (1999 - 2003)

    • Design of an ultra-smooth translation mechanism for the Planetary Atmosphere Occultation Spectrometer (PAOS)
    • Aided in the design of the MER Instrument Deployment Device (IDD)
    • Design of several snake-line prototype robots for gas pipe inspection
    • Mechanical and magnetic design of miniature brushless DC motors for space applications

    JPL (1998)

    • Design of an under-actuated hopping robot prototype
  • Research Interests

    Mechanical design and control of robotic systems and mechanisms

    Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

    Research Tasks
    ATHLETE: Rough and Steep Terrain Lunar Surface Mobility


    1. K. Carpenter, M. L. Cable, M. Choukroun, S. Iacoponi, S. Moreland, M. Heverly, H. Nayar, B. Kennedy, J. Bowkett, W. Reid, "The Science Case for Surface Mobility on Icy Worlds," Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, vol. 53, p. 186, 01 May 2021.
    1. M. Ono, B. Rothrock, E. Almeida, A. Ansar, R. Otero, A. Huertas, M. Heverley, "Data-driven surface traversability analysis for Mars 2020 landing site selection," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 January 2016.
    1. M. Heverly, J. Matthews, M. Frost, C. McQuin, "Development of the Tri-ATHLETE Lunar Vehicle Prototype," Proceedings of the 40th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, 07 May 2010.
    1. M. Heverly, J. Matthews, "A Wheel-on-limb rover for lunar operation," in Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (iSAIRAS), 25 February 2008.
    1. M. Heverly, S. Dougherty, G. Toon, A. Soto, J.F. Blavier, "A Low Mass Translation Mechanism for Planetary FTIR Spectrometry Using an Ultrasonic Piezo Linear Motor," 37th Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium, pp. 251-262, 01 May 2004.
    1. P. Fiorini, S. Hayati, M. Heverly, J. Gensler, "A Hopping Robot for Planentary Exploration," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Volume 2, pp. 153-158, 01 March 1999.