Terry Fong

Director, Intelligent Robotics Group
Senior Scientist for Autonomous Systems
NASA Ames Research Center

NASA has traditionally used different approaches for human and robotic missions. Human spaceflight missions conducted with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station use near-continuous communication with minimal time delays. During these missions, astronauts work in concert with engineers in mission control to perform tasks and resolve problems in real time. In contrast, space robotic missions typically rely on meticulously scripted and validated command sequences that are intermittently uplinked by mission control to the robot for independent execution.

As we look to the future, however, space missions will increasingly involve joint teams of humans and robots. Human-robot teams bring together multiple types of agents, both human and robotic, with unique capabilities that complement each other to achieve mission objectives. Robots can perform precursor tasks, such as reconnaissance, which help prepare for future human activity. Robots can work in support of astronauts, assisting or performing tasks in parallel. Robots can also perform "follow-up" work, completing tasks designated or started by humans.

In this talk, I will describe how NASA Ames has been developing and testing robots for space exploration. In our research, we have focused on studying how human-robot teams can increase the performance, reduce the cost, and increase the success of space missions. A key tenet of our work is that humans and robots should support one another in order to compensate for limitations of manual control and autonomy. This principle has broad applicability beyond space exploration. Thus, I will conclude by discussing how we have worked with Nissan to apply our methods to self-driving cars -- enabling humans to support autonomous vehicles operating in unpredictable and difficult situations.

Dr. Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group and Senior Scientist for Autonomous Systems at the NASA Ames Research Center. Dr. Fong currently leads the NASA Human Exploration Telerobotics project, which develops telerobotic systems for the International Space Station. Dr. Fong is also Deputy Lead for the NASA Resource Prospector Mission lunar rover. From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Fong was the deputy leader of the Virtual Reality and Active Interfaces Group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). From 1997 to 2000, he was Vice President of Development for Fourth Planet, Inc., a developer of real-time visualization software. Dr. Fong has published more than one hundred thirty papers in space and field robotics, human-robot interaction, virtual reality user interfaces, and planetary mapping. Dr. Fong received his B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.

Salah Sukkarieh

Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, School of Aerospace Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering
Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics

Professor Salah Sukkarieh is an international expert in the research, development and commercialisation of field robotic systems. He has led a number of robotics and intelligent systems R&D projects in logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining, and has consulted to industry including Rio Tinto, BHP, Patrick Stevedores, Qantas, BAE Systems, QLD Biosecurity, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the NSW DPI amongst others. In 2014 he was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies.
Salah is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney, and the Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. He has supervised over 20 research fellows, and graduated over 30 PhDs, 5 Masters and 60 honours students. He has received over $45m in government and industry funding, national and international.
Salah is a Fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), and is on the editorial board for the Journal of Field Robotics, Journal of Autonomous Robots, and Transactions of Aerospace Systems, and has over 300 academic and industry publications in robotics and intelligent systems.

Jean-Christophe Zufferey

senseFly CEO and Co-founder

Jean-Christophe is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of senseFly SA ( He is a bona fide pioneer in the field of small, bio-inspired, autonomous flying robots, holding a PhD in Mobile Robotics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) - where he has taught and managed numerous robotics projects - as well as an MSc in Micro Engineering, the thesis for which he completed at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. A Swiss national, Jean-Christophe has also studied entrepreneurship and management, and he is a licensed pilot with a passion for flying helicopters and aerobatics.

About senseFly:
At senseFly, we believe in using technology to make work safer and more efficient. Our proven drone solutions simplify the collection and analysis of geospatial data, allowing professionals in surveying, agriculture, engineering and humanitarian aid to make better decisions, faster. senseFly was founded in 2009 and quickly became the leader in mapping drones. The company is a commercial drone subsidiary of Parrot Group. For more information, go to

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