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Mihail Pivtoraiko


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





Mihail Pivtoraiko

Member of Technical Staff


Mihail Pivtoraiko is with the Advanced Robotic Controls group at JPL. He is one of the engineers of the multi-institutional robotic software architecture (CLARAty), as well as a collaborator on robotics research tasks. Mihail joined JPL in June 2005, and at once began his involvement with robotics research at the Lab.

Mihail completed his M.S. degree at Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. At CMU, he participated in several large mobile robotics projects sponsored by DARPA, in particular PerceptOR (Perception for Off-Road robots) and LAGR (Learning Applied to Ground Robots). His roles included system engineering for the navigation system, research and development of constrained motion planning components for rough terrain and complex natural environments, and culminated in leading the task of developing the navigation system for LAGR robots. He managed the successful completion of the task on a short timeline. Toward the completion of his degree, Mihail was directly involved in a Mars Technology Program research task. As a part of a small group, Mihail contributed to the research, assisted with the task organization, and participated in the regular management reviews.

Mihail received a B.S. degree from Portland State University (Portland, Oregon), where he graduated summa cum laude in 2003. He received a dual degree in Computer Engineering and Physics, and a minor in French. In his education career, Mihail has received a variety of awards, including H. Chik M. Erzurumlu and Diversity Achievement Scholarships, Intel Scholar award, and the National Science Foundation Fellowship Honorable Mention. Mihail was also actively involved in working in the industry, including the Intel Corp., Intel Research, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD), and the National Robotics Engineering Consortium (Pittsburgh, PA). At Portland State, Mihail was involved in the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. He is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi national honor societies, and the IEEE.

Mihail's areas of research interest primarily include motion planning, modeling and system identification, and state estimation. Click here to view my school webpage.


M.S. in Robotics, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 2005.

Research Area: Mobile off-road robotics, constrained motion planning.

B.S. in Computer Engineering and Physics, minor in French, Portland State University, 2003.

Research Area: Computer vision on embedded systems with limited resources.

Professional Experience

Robotics Software Engineer

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA (June 2005 - current)

  • Development and support of CLARAty framework for robotics technology development
  • Development of mobility and motion planning systems for autonomous rovers
  • Studying reconfigurable architectures for planetary rovers

Research Assistant

National Robotics Engineering Consortium, Pittsburgh, PA (September 2003 - June 2005)

  • Developed model-based predictive motion planning control software for off-road mobile robots.
  • Supported the system during several field tests and client demos: Fort A.P.Hill and Yuma Proving Grounds.
  • Performed debugging and made improvements to an implementation of the Ranger planning algorithm for the DARPA PerceptOR project.
  • Led a team to create and support motion planning software for a high-mobility robot for DARPA Learning Applied to Ground Robots program.
  • Performed research and development on a Mars Technology Program, participated in regular management revieiws

Development Engineer Intern

Intel Research, Hillsboro, OR (June 2002 - September 2002)

  • Developed software for an XScale (PXA250) based embedded platform designed as a supernode for Berkeley motes project and for robotics control applications.
  • Ported a bootloader ("bootldr") and Linux kernel to the new board.
  • Designed Linux device drivers optimal for robotics applications.
  • Provided technical support for platform deployments to several robotics research institutions.

Research Assistant Intern

NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (September 2001 - December 2001)

  • Created programs in Matlab (utilizing MEX and C) to process data from several defense meteorological satellites (programming included multi-threaded projects for 4 CPU's under HPUX).
  • Developed data visualization techniques to examine very large datasets.
  • Assisted in climate research by processing geophysical data from satellites.

Technical Marketing Engineer Intern

Intel Corporation. Hillsboro, OR (June 2001 - September 2001)

  • Worked closely with a team to enhance a 3D application framework (a demo application based on Microsoft Direct3D API).
  • Designed and implemented a complete software module in C++: a user interface API that allows creating graphical menus and command line console within the framework.
  • Delivered code reviews to team for feedback (three PowerPoint presentations).
  • Outstanding Intern rating.

Research Interests

I am interested in improving the performance and reliability of off-road mobile robots. I research the system aspects of creating a high mobility autonomous vehicle, especially the perception, planning, and control software. In this work, I hope to advance the state of the art in off-road motion planning and system integration to make autonomous navigation in unknown terrain feasible for vehicles with limited computation features and stringent power requirements. Among various applications of this research, I am most interested in planetary exploration.


  1. M. Pivtoraiko, A. Kelly, "Constrained Motion Planning in Discrete State Spaces," Field and Service Robotics, 17 September 2020.
  1. M. Pivtoraiko, A. Kelly, "Efficient constrained path planning via search in state lattices," Proc. of the 8th Int. Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 September 2005.
  2. M. Pivtoraiko, A. Kelly, "Efficient Braking Model for Off-Road Mobile Robots," Field and Service Robotics, 01 August 2005.
  3. M. Pivtoraiko, A. Kelly, "Generating Near Minimal Spanning Control Sets for Constrained Motion Planning in Discrete State Spaces," In Proc. of the Int. Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 01 July 2005.