Kamak Ebadi
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KAMAK EBADI, Ph.D.

Multi-Robot Perception | Collaborative Localization and Mapping | Multi-Robot Autonomy 

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About me

My research is primarily focused on robot perception, simultaneous 3D localization and mapping for multi-agent collaborative systems in extreme, GPS-denied and perceptually-degraded environments., structure from motion, and Machine Learning for object detection and semantic segmentation. My current research is focused on high-resolution and high-precision orbital mapping and terrain relative navigation (TRN) for guided descent and precision landing on the moon in support of NASA's Artemis program.

I joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2017 as a doctoral research fellow and completed my Ph.D. thesis while contributing to some cutting-edge research projects including the collaborative localization and mapping of a Mars rover-helicopter team, and the worldwide DARPA Subterranean Challenge, where my team ranked 1st in the Urban Circuit of the competition. After completing my Ph.D. program, I worked as a postdoc on two research projects jointly at California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and JPL where my research was focused on multi-agent simultaneous estimation of shape and pose of uncooperative space objects, and autonomous navigation of unmanned surface vehicles in GPS-denied environments. I am currently a Robotics Technologist in the Aerial Perception Systems group of the Mobility and Robotic Systems section at NASA/JPL.

Before joining JPL, alongside to my Ph.D. studies at the Robotic Systems Laboratory at Santa Clara University, I worked full-time as a robotics engineer in several tech companies in Silicon Valley, including the Self-Driving group at Nissan-Renault Research Center, and the exoskeleton team at Alter-G. On this website, you will find some past and present projects that I have been involved throughout my career.

Honors / Awards

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - California Institute of Technology - STAR Award, 2020

  • DARPA Subterranean Challenge, Urban Circuit, Member of the perception team, 1st place, 2020

  • DARPA Subterranean Challenge, Tunnel Circuit, Member of the perception team, 2nd place 2019

  • Best Doctoral Research Award - School of Engineering - Santa Clara University, 2019 

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Year-Round Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2017- 2020

  • Best Student Paper Award – 2015ASME/IEEE Int. Conf. on Mechatronics & Embedded Systems

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Award – Santa Clara University, School of Engineering, 2014 - 2017

  • Entrepreneurship Award – Development of an Asteroid Mining Business Model, SCU, 2014

  • Space Design Challenge Award, Ranked 1st & winner of $2K Prize, SCU and NASA Ames, 2013

  • International Olympiad on Astronomy & Astrophysics – Member of the panel of jury, 2009

My passion for space exploration

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Since my childhood, I have been fascinated with the beauty of the night sky. And while I majored in computer engineering for my undergraduate studies, I also self-studied astronomy and astrophysics and attended many amateur astronomy events and national contests in astrophysics and was ranked first in multiple national competitions. 

In 2009, I served as a member of the panel of jury at the 3rd International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics.

In 2011, I watched the final launch of space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as it reached for the stars for the final time. 

In 2013, I was ranked 1st in the Space Design Challenge competition sponsored by NASA Ames, where I expressed the value proposition of space exploration, and articulated my vision for NASA’s future involvement in space exploration. You can read about my life story, "Reaching for the stars, Powered by a dream", featured in Santa Clara University's Engineering News Letter in 2019.

Flight & Aviation

I have always been fascinated with flying. I was in my early twenties when I started to learn paragliding. The most fascinating part of paragliding for me is the peace and quite that you experience while flying.

I have always wanted to learn how to fly planes and become a private pilot. Thanks to my wife who gifted me personal training sessions in a flight school, this dream finally came true and I got started with taking flight lessons. I am currently learning how to fly a Cessna 172. My goal is to get my private pilot license soon.

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