Seminar: Ben Morrell, Sept 20th 2019

When: Fri, Sept 20th 2019, 3:30p

Where: Rose St Building Seminar Area

Title: Robotics NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the DARPA Subterranean Challenge

Abstract: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is famous for flagship space exploration missions such as the Mars rovers, the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Voyager spacecraft journeying beyond the solar system. While these activities take up a large portion of the laboratory, there is also a substantial proportion of the lab devoted to robotics research. This talk will give an overview of some of the robotics activities at JPL, both flight and research. More details will then be presented on the work being done as part of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, an international competition requiring rapid multi-robot exploration of unknown underground environments, with substantial perceptual, mobility and communication challenges. There will be a particular focus on the perception components on the challenge: global localization, mapping, locating objects of interest and state estimation.

Bio: Dr Benjamin Morrell is a Robotics Technologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, working on autonomous navigation technology for robots flying, exploring underground and in space. He is the perception lead on team CoSTAR, a collaboration between JPL, MIT and Caltech competing in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge.

Previously he worked at JPL as a Post-Doctoral researcher after completing an internship there during his PhD which included work on high speed autonomous flight of quadrotors. He completed his PhD at the University of Sydney in the School of Aerospace Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, the same institution where he completed his Bachelor’s of Aeronautical (Space) Engineering in 2013. Ben’s PhD thesis focused on autonomous navigation for aerial and space-based robots, considering localization, mapping, trajectory planning and control.

Ben is a motivated actor in trying to connect Australian students, researchers and entrepreneurs with opportunities, expertise and experience in the US space industry, and has been heavily involved in outreach activities while in Australia (AIAA Sydney Section, and Zero Robotics).


Sydney Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems