Dr Andrew Howard is a robotics engineer who has helped to create some of the most exciting automations on, and off, the planet. As a senior member of the technical staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Andrew contributed to rovers planned for NASA’s return to the moon, as well as numerous autonomous ground vehicles for Earth-based users.
He was part of the Caltech team for the Urban Grand Challenge, which was tasked with creating a vehicle to drive in a typical urban environment. Andrew also provided the vision for ‘Big Dog’, a four-legged robot intended for rough terrain, which achieved fame with the web release of a video of it recovering its footing after being kicked and slipping on icy roads.
More recently, as Lead Engineer at SpaceX, Andrew designed the docking system that will join the Dragon space capsule (to be launched on the Falcon 9 rocket) to the International Space Station.
Andrew has extensive experience with a wide range of terrestrial robotics programs, including DARPA BigDog, Crusher and Urban Grand Challenge mentioned above (PI or technical lead for the perception sub-systems) , ARL Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance SafeOps (human detection lead), and the Navy/ONR Unmanned Surface Vessel programs.
He was a Research Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southern California; and was also a member of Robotics Research Laboratory (RRL) and the Centre for Robotics and Embedded Systems.
His research interests include multi-robot localization, exploration and coordination, distributed sensor/actuator networks, and simulation of large-scale multi-robot systems. He is a member of the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Field Robotics and the International Journal of Robotics Research; he has also served on the program committees of many robotics conferences, including ICRA, IROS, FSR and RSS.
Beginning programming and building his first robot from Lego at the age of 11, Andrew has long been passionate about engineering and physics. He served as RoboCup coordinator at the University of Melbourne and lead Melbourne’s first Robocup team at university. He received his PhD in Engineering and BSc in Theoretical Physics from the University of Melbourne.