MS 198-219
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, California, 91109

About Me

I am Josh VanderHook, a Research Technologist at NASA JPL in the Estimation, Decision, and Control (347E) group.

Here at JPL, I am working on projects which involve multi-vehicle collaboration for hostile target detection and tracking. I am also interested in pursuit-evasion games and lately begun to explore connections between these subjects and online convex minimization.

I completed my Ph.D in the department of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 2015. It was my great pleasure to work with Dr. Volkan Isler, and the Robotic Sensor Networks lab. My thesis concerned competitive, online algorithms applied to multi-robot path-planning for sensing. E.g., using robots to mine geo statistical data (see: Precision Agriculture) or track invasive species.

In my free time I enjoy boxing, climbing, camping, sailing, live music, and road-biking. I have also begun doing volunteer web development for non-profit organizations using the Catch-a-fire service and the United Nations Volunteer network. I encourage you to contact me directly if you are interested in discussing a possible project.


2016 March

New articles:
  • Patrick A. Plonski, J. VanderHook, V. Isler. Environment and Solar Map Construction for Solar-Powered Mobile Systems IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 32(1): 70-82, 2016.
  • H. Bayram, J. VanderHook, and V. Isler. Gathering Bearing Data for Target Localization IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 1(1): 369-374, 2016
At JPL, I work with the Maritime Robotics group. Our team's work was featured in the news. We're helping to design the worlds first fully autonomous naval vessel. Of course, I'm still working on the multi-robot SWARM project, which aims to add some pretty neat multi-robot collaboration between autonomous boats.

2015 September

I've defended my thesis titled "Active Target Localization and Tracking with Application to Environmental Monitoring". I join NASA JPL in two weeks in the Estimation, Decision, and Control (347E) group.

2015 April

Our Transactions paper has been accepted for publication.
  • J. VanderHook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler. Algorithms for Cooperative Active Localization of Static Targets with Mobile Bearing Sensors under Communication Constraints Transactions on Robotics, 31 (4) 2014. pp 864-876. DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2015.2432612
    [pdf] [bib] [tech report]

2015 Feb

This is not related to my work, but I wanted to pass along this essay. It captures my feelings on my impending (intended) graduation pretty well.

2015 Jan

How's a tiny robot going to get through a busy harbor? How can a drunk efficiently find his house? Provably near-optimal obstacle avoidance without a priori maps, that's how.
  • P. Plonski, J. VanderHook, C. Peng, N. Noori, and V. Isler. Navigation Around an Unknown Obstacle for Autonomous Surface Vehicles Using a Forward-Facing Sonar Cond. Accepted Towards Long-Term Autonomy in Marine Robotics, Autonomous Robotics Special Issue, 2015

Oct: ABD

  • I have passed my thesis proposal examination, and would like to thank my committee members for their valuable feedback and suggestions.

Sep: IROS 2014 in Chicago, Illinois

Aug: CCCG 2014 in Halifax, Nova Scotia

  • My presentation at CCCG 2014 is during Session 9B, on Wednesday. Hope to see you there.

July 2014: Some sailling

June 2014: Paper Accepted to CCCG 2014

  • J. VanderHook, V. Isler. Pursuit and Evasion with Uncertain Bearing Measurements Proc. Canadian Conference on Computational Geometry 2014. 332-340.
    [pdf] [bib]

May 2014: Sigma Xi award

I'd like to thank the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society for selecting me for the Charles and Dorothy Andrew Bird award!
  • Through a generous bequest to the University of Minnesota Foundation, [Sigma Xi] will present up to two awards named for Drs. Charles and Dorothy Bird to graduate students for outstanding research in the form of a paper or papers accepted for peer-reviewed journal publication.

April 2014: Fellowship

It is my great pleasure to accept the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for the 2014-2015 year.
  • "The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) program gives the University's most accomplished Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year."

January 2014: New Tech Report Available

We discuss a pursuit-evasion game with uncertain sensing, and show evader-win strategies against a single pursuer.

November 2013: Journal Paper Accepted

  • J. VanderHook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler. Cautious Greedy Strategy for Bearing-Only Active Localization: Analysis and Field Experiments Journal of Field Robotics. pp 296-318, 31(2). April, 2014.
    [pdf] [bib] [wiley]

July 2013: Fellowship

  • I'm proud to be awarded an ARCS Fellowship starting Fall 2013. The ARCS Foundation is "... determined to focus their philanthropic efforts helping the U.S. regain its technological superiority"

June 2013: Paper to appear in IROS 2013

  • P. Tokekar, J. VanderHook, V. Isler. Sensor Planning for a Symbiotic UAV and UGV system for Precision Agriculture Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems Tokyo, Japan. pp 5321-5326, 2013.
    [pdf] [bib] [Tech Report]

May 2013: I gave a talk on campus

  • J. VanderHook "Searching with Bearing Measurements" at Graduate Student Colloqium, May 10, 2013. University of Minnessota.

March 2013: A few new tech reports are available

  • J. VanderHook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler. Bearing-Only Active Target Localization Strategies for a System of Two Communicating Mobile Robots: Full Technical Report . 2013
    [Tech Report] [bib]
  • P. Tokekar, J. VanderHook, V. Isler. Sensor Planning for a Symbiotic UAV and UGV system for Precision Agriculture . 2013
    [Tech Report]

Feb 2013: Springer STAR series going to press

  • J. VanderHook, P. Tokekar, E. Branson, P. Bajer, P. Sorensen, V. Isler. Local-Search Strategy for Active Localization of Multiple Invasive Fish Springer Tracts on Advanced Robotis (STAR) 88, pp. 859-873, 2013.
    [pdf] [bib]

Jan 2013: RSN, Robotics Alley at the Minnesota State Capital

"Minnesota`s Twin Cities have emerged as a leading industrial cluster within the global robotics industry," said Robotics Alley`s Executive Director, Andrew Borene. "On January 28th, Minnesota`s legislators, state government leaders, and the public will have the opportunity to learn about some of the companies, universities and other organizations driving job creation and economic growth in the booming field of robotics." From:[2]

Nov 2012: RSN @ Robotics Alley

  • "The Robotics Alley is an initiative founded by ReconRobotics and the Minnesota High Tech Association meant to spur public-private partnerships in the business, research and development of world-leading robotics and automation systems." MN Daily coverage: Robotics Alley

June 2012: TA for CSCI 5551: Introduction to Robotics

  • I'll be one of two TA's for 5551, taught by Prof. Isler this fall. Hope to see you there! [site]

May 2012: ICRA 2012, Saint Paul, MN

  • My presentation is Tuesday afternoon, 5-5:30 in Ballroom D.

May 2012: Article accepted to Robotics and Automation Magazine

  • P. Tokekar, E. Branson, J. VanderHook, V. Isler. Tracking Aquatic Invaders IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine. pp 33-41, 20(3), September, 2013.
    [pdf] [bib]

Jan 2012: Paper accepted to ICRA 2012

  • J. VanderHook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler. Cautious Greedy Strategy for Bearing-based Active Localization: Experiments and Theoretical Analysis. In: Proc IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation, 2012, pp 1787-1792.
    [pdf] [bib] [Tech Report]

Nov 2011: Presented to SSR-RC

  • SSR-RC is an industry-academia partnership at U-Penn, U of M, and Drexel University. I presented progress on using Android-powered devices to control mobile robots on the fly.

Fall 2011: NSF Large grant

  • Dr. Volkan Isler received a $2.2m grant from the NSF to build a robotic sensor network for carp monitoring in Oregon. News item

October 2011: Back from IROS '11

Workship for Environmental Monitoring:

  • My lab, RSN will be presenting field results at the environmental monitoring workship at IROS '11.

March 2011: Paper selected for IROS '11

  • P. Tokekar, J. VanderHook, and V. Isler. Active Target Localization for Bearing Based Robotic Telemetry. In Proc. IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2011. pp 488-493.
    [pdf] [bib]