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Vandi Verma


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-400

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

3470 - Section Management

Acting Member of:

347T - Robotic Aerial Mobility

Dr. Vandi Verma

Deputy Section Manager

Group Supervisor 347T (Acting)


Vandi Verma is the Deputy Section Manager for the Mobility & Robotics section at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. She also serves as Chief Engineer of Robotic Operations for Mars 2020. She was the Assistant Section Manager of the Mobility & Robotics section, the Supervisor of the Section Staff Group, and the Supervisor of the Operable Robotics Group.

Her areas of expertise include space robotics, autonomous robots, and robotic operations. She has worked on Robotics and AI research and technology development tasks and has deployed robots in the Arctic, Antarctica, and the Atacama Desert. She works on new robotics capabilities from research & development, mission design and prototyping, through flight development, testing and launch, to landing and surface operations.

Capabilities she has worked on are in regular use on Perseverance and Curiosity. She developed onboard robotic arm collision detection and autonomous robotic arm positioning on Perseverance, and autonomous science targeting on Perseverance and Curiosity. In addition to flight software onboard rovers, she has developed ground operations capabilities. She developed rapid flight software in the loop Surface Simulation (SSIM) for Curiosity. SSIM is used daily to simulate and verify spacecraft commanding on Curiosity and Perseverance. She is also the Principal Investigator of an Operations for Autonomy research task. She has been engaged in robotic operations on Mars since 2008 with the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity rover, Perseverance rover, and Ingenuity helicopter.

Vandi led the Europa Lander Advanced Development Autonomy Prototyping team and led the team that originated MEXEC for multi-mission onboard planning and execution. It has been demonstrated in flight in the ASTERIA mission, in Europa Clipper and Europa Lander prototypes, and parts of it are in use in the Perseverance On-Board planner. Prior to joining JPL, at NASA Ames research center she led the team that originated the formally verifiable plan execution language PLEXIL and the development of technology that has been deployed on rovers and human spaceflight projects. She continues to work with external collaborators and student and faculty researchers at universities.

Vandi received her Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005.

Research Interests

Autonomous robots, Onboard capabilities that reduce the need for ground-in-the-loop interaction

Robotic operations, Human-robot interaction

Planning and execution, State estimation, Machine learning

Systems engineering, Flight software, Mission Design


  1. 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.
  1. V. Verma, D. Gaines, G. Rabideau. S. Schaffer, R. Joshi, "Autonomous Science Restart for the Planned Europa Mission with Lightweight Planning and Execution," International Workshop on Planning & Scheduling for Space, 01 January 2017.
  1. D. Gaines, G. Doran, H. Justice, G. Rabideau, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, K. Wagstaff, V. Vasavada, W. Huffman, R. Anderson, R. Mackey, T. Estlin, L. Fesq, M. Ingham, M. Maimone, I. Nesnas, "Productivity Challenges for Mars Rover Operations," International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), 01 January 2016.
  1. R. Francis, T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, R. Anderson, M. Burl, S. Chu, R. Castano, D. Thompson, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, G. Doran, "AEGIS autonomous targeting for the Curiosity rovers ChemCam instrument," Applied Imagery Pattern Recognition Workshop (AIPR), 2015 IEEE, 01 January 2015.
  1. T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, D. Thompson, A. Altinok, R. Anderson, M. Burl, R. Castano, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, T. Nelson, R. Weins, "Automated Targeting for the MSL Rover ChemCam Spectrometer," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS 2014), 01 January 2014.
  1. S. Dong, P. Conrad, J. Shah, B. Williams, D. Mittman, M. Ingham, V. Verma, "Compliant Task Execution and Learning for Safe Mixed-Initiative Human-Robot Operations," InfoTech 2011, 01 January 2011.
  1. V. Verma, V. Baskaran, H. Utz, R. Harris, C. Fry, "Demonstration of Robust Execution on a NASA Lunar Rover Testbed," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  2. D. Kortenkamp, P. Bonasso, D. Schreckenghost, K. Dalal, V. Verma, L. Wang, "A Procedure Representation Language for Human Spaceflight Operations," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  1. M. Bualat, L. Edwards, T. Fong, M. Broxton, L. Flueckiger, S. Lee, E. Park, V. To, H. Utz, V. Verma, C. Kunz, M. MacMahon, "Autonomous Robotic Inspection for Lunar Surface Operations," Field and Service Robotics Conference, 01 January 2007.
  1. 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.
  2. D. Wettergreen, N. Cabrol, J. Teza, P. Tompkins, C. Urmson, V. Verma, M. Wagner, W. Whittaker, "First Experiments in the Robotic Investigation of Life in the Atacama Desert of Chile," International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2005.
  3. V. Verma, A. Jonsson, R. Simmons, T. Estlin, R. Levinson, "Survey of Command Execution Systems for NASA Spacecraft and Robots," The International Cnference on Automated Planning & Scheduling (ICAPS), 01 January 2005.
  1. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, "Efficient Monitoring for Planetary Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Space (iSAIRAS), 01 January 2003.
  2. V. Verma, S. Thrun, R. Simmons, "Variable Resolution Particle Filter," In Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Artificial intelligence (IJCAI), 01 January 2003.
  1. M. Montemerlo, J. Pineau, N. Roy, S. Thrun, V. Verma, "Experiences with a Mobile Robotic Guide for the Elderly," In Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 01 January 2002.
  2. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, S. Thrun, "Particle Filters for Rover Fault Diagnosis," Robotics & Automation Magazine, special issue on Human Centered Robotics and Dependability, 01 January 2002.
  1. S. Thrun. J. Langford, V. Verma, "Risk Sensitive Particle Filters," In Proceedings of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 01 January 2001.
  2. V. Verma, J. Langford, R. Simmons, "Non-Parametric Fault Identification for Space Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2001.
  1. S. Singh, R. Simmons, T. Smith, A. Stenz, V. Verma, A. Yahja, K. Schwehr, "Recent Progress in Local and Global Traversability for Planetary Rovers," Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2000.