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

About #

Josh is a Computer Scientist, NIAC Fellow, and Technical Group Supervisor at NASA JPL. He has worked on exploration, science, and defense projects while there, including deploying operational autonomous systems for the US Navy. He manages the Artificial Intelligence, Observation Planning and Analysis Group which is responsible for designing and deploying autonomous planning, sequencing, and scheduling to NASA instruments, robots, and spacecraft. The members of the group currently manage or contribute to deep ocean and under-ice robotic explorers, the International Space Station earth observing OCO-3, the Mars Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, Europa Clipper, Psyche Asteroid Mission, NISAR, and several DoD missions.

Previously he was a member of the Maritime and Multi-Agent Autonomy group, where he has had the pleasure of working since 2015.

He completed a Ph.D in the department of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 2015 with Dr. Volkan Isler, and the Robotic Sensor Networks lab. Josh's thesis concerned competitive, online algorithms applied to multi-robot path-planning for sensing, e.g., using robots to mine geo-statistical data for precision agriculture and track invasive species in Minnesota lakes.

Josh enjoys boxing, climbing, camping, sailing, live music, and road-biking. He also occasionally does pro bono curriculm development for non-profit educational and STEM outreach organizations, including Mind Makers.

News #

Dec 2021: AENAC Devices

I've formed a small device design studio that will specialize in speciality networking and embedded computing. More to come!

2021 Mar: NIAC Phase 1 Selection for Solar System Pony Express

Our concept, the "Solar System Pony Express", was selected for a NASA Innovative Advanced Concept Phase 1 Study! The concept proposed was using a network of satellites to shuttle data (in hard drives) to do massive data transfers from Mars to Earth, to augment the normal electromagnetic transmission (e.g., radio / lasers).

You can read the announcement and a few of the preliminarly studies here:

  • NASA.gov Announcement
  • # Data Mules on Cycler Orbits for High-Latency, Planetary-Scale Data Transfers
    Marc Sanchez-net, Etienne Pellegrini, Joshua Vander Hook,
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2020.
    [pdf] [bib] [slides]
  • # Solar System Data Mules: Analysis for Mars and Jupiter
    Marc Sanchez-net, Etienne Pellegrini, Wilson Parker, Joshua Vander Hook,
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2021.
    [pdf] [bib]

2021 Mar: Got to present at the Lockheed Martin Seminar at UMD

  • # AI for Spacecraft at NASA JPL Virtual talk, 2021.

2021 Mar: Excited to present to WVU!

  • # AI for Spacecraft at NASA JPL Virtual talk, 2021.

2021 Jan: Presented to AAS 2021

  • # Nebulae: KISS In-Situ Cloud Computing Workshop for Space Exploration Missions American Astronomical Society 2021, Virtual.

2021 Jan: A few publications related to Decadal Survey and the MOSAIC Planetary Mission Concept

NASA funded study on a constellation of orbiters for studying soil, atmosphere, ionosphere interactions at Mars. A huge effort across mutiple institutions, in which I played a small part.

And, an LPSC conference presentation by Rob Lillis, the PI, on the topic.

  • # MOSAIC: Mars Orbiters for Surface Atmospheric and Ionospheric Connections
    Robert Lillis, David Mitchell, Steve Matousek, et al.
    NASA Planetary Science Decadal Survey, National Academies of Science August 2020.
    [pdf] [bib] [National Academies Slides]
  • # MOSAIC: Mars Orbiters for Surface Atmospheric and Ionospheric Connections
    R. J. Lillis, N. G. Heavens, L. Montabone, S. Guzewich, S. M. Curry, P. Withers, M. Chaffin, T. N. Harrison, C. O. Ao, D. L. Mitchell, J.G. Luhmann, J. I. Deighan, M. Kahre, A. Brecht, C. Neish, , J. Vander Hook, I. Smith, , S. L. England, B. M. Jakosky, S. Matousek, C. Edwards
    AGU Fall Meeting 2020.
    [pdf] [bib]

2021 Jan: New paper for IEEE Aerospace Conference

We study the total improvement over future Deep space network capabilities if you include a small satellite data mule (aka Pony Express).

  • # Solar System Data Mules: Analysis for Mars and Jupiter
    Marc Sanchez-net, Etienne Pellegrini, Wilson Parker, Joshua Vander Hook,
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2021.
    [pdf] [bib]

2020 November: New journal article with Professor Schaal from CSU Northridge.

  • # Lamb Wave-Based Mapping of Plate Structures via Frontier Exploration
    Alvin Miranda, Joshua Vander Hook, Christoph Schaal.
    Ultrasonics 2021, (110) 106282
    [pdf] [bib] [open access url] [doi]

2020 August: IEEE Vis paper available

Our paper on visual tools for debugging a distributed robotic network is online!

  • # A Visual Analytics Approach to Debugging Cooperative, Autonomous Multi-Robot System
    Suyun Bae, Federico Rossi, Joshua Vander Hook, Scott Davidoff, Kwan-Liu Ma
    Accepted to the IEEE VIS 2020 Conference (Virtual)
    [pdf] [bib] [conf page]

2020 July: IROS paper accepted

Our paper on a distributed processing framework for ROS was accepted for at IROS this year!

  • # The Pluggable Distributed Resource Allocator (PDRA): a Middleware for Distributed Computing in Mobile Robotic Networks
    F. Rossi, T. Stegun Vaquero, M. Sanchez-Net, M. Saboia da Silva, J. Vander Hook.
    Accepted to the 2020 International Converence on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Las Vegas, USA
    [pdf] [bib] [github]

2020 May: ICRA → IROS

Our ICRA workshop was accepted for transfer to IROS 2020 in October!

  • Robotic In-Situ Manufacturing, Structural Assembly and Servicing
    Workshop at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
    Where: Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, Nevada USA
    When: October 25 or 29, 2020

April 2020: Quarnetine'd talk: Exapunks and Graph Exploration

I gave a talk to JPL Section 347 on the game Exapunks, and its relation to a recent paper "Tight Bounds for Undirected Graph Exploration with Pebbles and Multiple Agents".

March 2020: Presented to Defense Strategies Institute

It was a great pleasure to present to the Defense Strategies Institute at the Unmanned Systems Summit.

  • # Swarms of Pirates: Red Team Exercises with Multi-Agent Autonomy Unamanned Systems Summit, Defense Strategies Institute. Alexandria, VA, USA. March 2020

March 2020: Keck Workshop Delayed

Due to proliferation of COVID-19, we're delaying our KECK workshop until August.

2020 Jan: ICRA Workshops

I'm thrilled to be an invited speaker at the ICRA 2020 Workshop on Foundational Problems in Multi-robot Coordination under Uncertainty and Adversarial Attacks. [See here]

I am also co-organizing a workshop on robotic in-situ manufacturing, structral assembly, and servicing. [See here]

2020 Jan: Three new papers for IEEE Aerospace Conference

One of my favorite projects of my career: Drawing inspiration from the Pony Express, we design a mission that can bring back thousands of times more data than the Deep Space Network could ever return.

  • # Data Mules on Cycler Orbits for High-Latency, Planetary-Scale Data Transfers
    Marc Sanchez-net, Etienne Pellegrini, Joshua Vander Hook,
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2020.
    [pdf] [bib] [slides]

The first follow-up from the Keck workshop is out in paper form! We advocate large-volume remote data stores with excess compute (e.g., a data server floating around Mars). We discuss the huge changes to scientific discovery and operation of robotic vehicles. More to come

  • Nebulae: Deep-Space Computing Clouds
    [Keck Institute for Space Studies] [workshop website]
  • # Nebulae: A Proposed Concept of Operation for Deep Space Computing Clouds
    Joshua Vander Hook, Julie Castillo-Rogez, Richard Doyle, Tiago Stegun Vaquero, Trent M. Hare, Randolf L. Kirk, Dmitriy Bekker, Alice Cocoros, Valerie Fox,
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2020.
    [pdf] [bib]

This paper reflects the Mars 2020 rover auto-drive team, which I contributed to a couple years ago during early-stage development.

  • # A ROS-based Simulator for Testing the Enhanced Autonomous Navigation of the Mars 2020 Rover
    Olivier Toupet, Tyler Del Sesto, Masahiro Ono, Steven Myint, Joshua Vander Hook, Michael McHenry
    Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference. Big Sky, MT 2020.
    [pdf] [bib]

2019 March: KISS workshop in August

I'm leading a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop on in-space computing networks to support space exploration.

2019 Feb: Paper accepted to ICAPS 2019

We study distributed computation for a ground swarm exploring Mars.
  • # Mars On-site Shared Analytics Information and Computing
    J. Vander Hook, Tiago Stegun Vaquero, Federico Rossi, Martina Troesch, Marc Sanchez-Net, Joshua Schoolcraft, Jean-Pierre de la Croix, Steve Chien
    Proceedings of the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling. 29 (1), pp 707-715. Berkeley, CA 2019.
    [pdf] [bib] [slides] [github]

2019 Jan: Paper accepted to SPIE 2019

We will present a distributed, semi-supervised autonomous system capable of high-speed transits in close formations.
  • # Autonomous Swarms of High Speed Manuvering Surface Vessels
    J. Vander Hook, William Seto, Viet Nguyen, Zaki Hasnain, Liam Gallagher, Tyler Halpin-Chan, Varun Varahamurthy, Moises Angulo
    Proceedings of SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Baltimore MD 2019
    [pdf] [bib] [slides]

2018 Feb

2017 March: Two new articles:

  • # CARACaS multi-agent maritime autonomy for unmanned surface vehicles in the Swarm II harbor patrol demonstration
    Wolf, Michael T., Amir Rahmani, Jean-Pierre de la Croix, Gail Woodward, Joshua Vander Hook, David Brown, Steve Schaffer, Marc Pomerantz
    In Unmanned Systems Technology XIX vol. 10195, p. 101950O. International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2017.
    [pdf] [bib]
  • # Mission modeling, planning, and execution module for teams of unmanned vehicles.
    Jean-Pierre de la Croix, Grace Lim, Joshua Vander Hook, Amir Rahmani, Greg Droge, Alexander Xydes, and Chris Scrapper.
    Unmanned Systems Technology XIX vol. 10195, p. 101950J. International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2017.
    [pdf] [bib]

2016 March: New articles on search and exploration for field robots

  • # Environment and Solar Map Construction for Solar-Powered Mobile Systems
    Patrick A. Plonski, J. Vander Hook, V. Isler.
    IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 32(1): 70-82, 2016.
    [pdf] [bib]
  • # Gathering Bearing Data for Target Localization
    H. Bayram, J. Vander Hook, and V. Isler.
    IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 1(1): 369-374, 2016
    [pdf] [bib]

Maritime Robotics in the news

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.
  • # Algorithms for Cooperative Active Localization of Static Targets with Mobile Bearing Sensors under Communication Constraints
    J. Vander Hook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler.
    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.
  • # Navigation Around an Unknown Obstacle for Autonomous Surface Vehicles Using a Forward-Facing Sonar
    P. Plonski, J. Vander Hook, C. Peng, N. Noori, and V. Isler.
    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

  • # Pursuit and Evasion with Uncertain Bearing Measurements
    J. Vander Hook, V. Isler.
    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."

November 2013: Journal Paper Accepted

  • # Cautious Greedy Strategy for Bearing-Only Active Localization: Analysis and Field Experiments
    J. Vander Hook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler.
    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

  • # Sensor Planning for a Symbiotic UAV and UGV system for Precision Agriculture
    P. Tokekar, J. Vander Hook, V. Isler.
    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

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

Feb 2013: Springer STAR series going to press

  • # Local-Search Strategy for Active Localization of Multiple Invasive Fish
    J. Vander Hook, P. Tokekar, E. Branson, P. Bajer, P. Sorensen, V. Isler.
    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: Article accepted to Robotics and Automation Magazine

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

Jan 2012: Paper accepted to ICRA 2012

  • # Cautious Greedy Strategy for Bearing-based Active Localization: Experiments and Theoretical Analysis.
    J. Vander Hook, P. Tokekar, V. Isler.
    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

Workship for Environmental Monitoring:

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

March 2011: Paper selected for IROS '11

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