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Task Manager

Dr. Homayoun Seraji

Homayoun SerajiHomayoun Seraji was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1947, completed his school education in Iran, and ranked first in the national high-school diploma examinations in 1965. He graduated with a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Electronics from the University of Sussex, England, in 1969, and earned his Ph.D. in Control Systems at the University of Cambridge, England, in 1972. He was elected a Research Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge, and conducted post-doctoral research and teaching for two years. In 1974, he joined Sharif (formerly Arya-Mehr) University of Technology, Iran, as a Professor of Electrical Engineering and was involved in teaching and research in control systems for ten years. He was selected a U.N. Distinguished Scientist in 1984 and spent one year at the University of New Mexico, USA, as a Visiting Professor. During his 13-year academic career, he has published extensively in the field of multivariable control systems, focusing on: optimal control, pole placement, multivariable PID controllers, and output regulation.

Dr. Seraji joined JPL in 1985 as a Senior Member of Technical Staff and additionally taught part-time at Caltech. Since 1991, he has been a Group Supervisor leading and managing a group of about 20 engineers and researchers in the Telerobotics Research and Applications Group. During his tenure at JPL, he has conducted extensive research that has led to major contributions in the field of robot control systems, particularly in: adaptive robot control, control of dexterous robots, contact control, real-time collision avoidance, rule-based robot navigation, and safe spacecraft landing. He received the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award in 1992, the NASA Group Achievement Award in 2002 and 1991, and eight NASA Major Space Act Awards since 1995. In 2003, he received the JPL Edward Stone Award for Outstanding Research Publication. The outcome of his research in controls and robotics has been published in 93 peer-reviewed journal papers, 112 refereed conference publications, 5 contributed chapters, and has led to 10 patents.

In 1996, Dr. Seraji was appointed a Senior Research Scientist at JPL in recognition of his significant individual research contributions in the fields of controls and robotics. He was selected a Fellow of IEEE in 1997 for his contributions to robotic control technology and its space applications. In 2003, he was recognized as the most-published author in the 20-year history of the Journal of Robotic Systems.


Team Members

Dr. Ayanna Howard

Dr. Ayanna Howard received her B.S. in Computer Engineering from Brown University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Dr. Howard's expertise is in the area of autonomous control. She has published over 50 written works on the successful use of artificial intelligence in a number of projects - from manipulation control of nonlinear objects to navigational control of mobile robots. Since 1991, Dr. Howard has been at JPL where she has led research efforts on various projects utilizing vision, fuzzy logic, and neural network methodologies. In 2001, Dr. Howard received the Lew Allen Award for Excellence in Research - the highest honor possible at JPL in recognition of significant leadership and technological innovation. Among her other achievements, she has received several NASA Space Act Awards for technical achievement and currently serves as Associate Editor for the International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing. She is currently Senior Member of Technical Staff with the Telerobotics Research and Applications Group.

Barry Werger

Barry Brian Werger received his B.A. in Computer Science/Cognitive Studies/Latin American Studies from Cornell University, his M.A. in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence from Brandeis University, and will receive his Ph.D. in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence from the University of Southern California, in 2003. His research developed scalable, fault tolerant control strategies for teams of cooperating mobile robots, as well as biologically-inspired minimalist and highly-situated control strategies. Partially funded by ONR, he participated in VSW/SZ MCM program, working with NUWC to develop the port-arbitrated behavior-based common control language (PABCL) for heterogeneous underwater vehicle teams, as well as group coordination strategies. He also participated in DARPA’s MARS effort, developing software infrastructure for robot teams. In addition to academic research, Barry has extensive experience in development and deployment of real-world autonomous mobile robot systems for exhibits at museums and trade shows, robotic theater productions, RoboCup Soccer and AAAI competition, and for film and television. He has developed several commercial software development environments including MARS/L for Pioneer (sold by IS Robotics), P-LOGO, the Pioneer Application Interface, and most recently the AYLLU distributed port-arbitrated behavior based control language (sold by ActivMedia) which is currently used in a variety of academic and government laboratories. Barry is currently a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Telerobotics group, where he works on projects involving planetary navigation and fault-tolerant distributed systems, and has served as Task Manager for multi-robot task allocation and reconfigurable software/hardware systems research projects.


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