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Vandi Verma


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-400

Pasadena, CA 91109



Member of:

3470 - Section Management

Acting Member of:

347T - Robotic Aerial Mobility

Dr. Vandi Verma

Deputy Section Manager

Group Supervisor 347T (Acting)


Vandi Verma is interested in robotic operations, and robotic software and algorithms that enable autonomy and commanding under uncertainty. She is the Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations for the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. She works on the Mars 2020 Sample Caching System algorithms and flight software, and AEGIS flight software for autonomous science targeting. Since 2008 she has been driving Mars rovers (MER, MSL) and operating the robotic arm and sampling system. She has worked on a number of robotics research projects and has deployed robots in the Arctic, Antarctica and Atacama.

Previously, she led the Europa Lander Advanced Development Autonomy Prototyping team, the development of an onboard planning and execution flight software prototype (MEXEC) for the Europa Clipper mission, developed autonomous science targeting flight software for ChemCam on MSL as part of the AEGIS team, and designed and programmed the SSim flight software simulation used daily for MSL robotic operations. Other positions on MSL included Sample Processing and Acquisition Manager systems engineer, Verification & Validation, Systems Integration & Testing, Flight Software Integrated Testing, and Motor Control.

Prior to joining JPL, at NASA Ames research center, she led the PLEXIL team that developed a formally verifiable autonomous plan execution language and executive that have been deployed on rovers and human spaceflight projects.

She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Ph.D. in Robotics in 2005. Her research resulted in computationally efficient particle filter based methods for non-parametric state estimation, with a focus on robot fault detection and classification.

Professional Experience

Current projects:
Mars 2020 Rover
Mars Science Laboratory Rover
Previous projects:
Europa Mission
Mars Exploration Rover
Autonomy and Robotics, NASA Ames:
PLan Interchange Execution Language (PLEXIL), project lead
Autonomous site survey at Haughton crater
Desert RATS robotic EVA inspection
Autonomy for crewed operations
Carnegie Mellon University:
Life in Atacama
Sun-synchronous navigation
Icebraker Lunar Rover Initiative
Robotic Antarctic Meteorite Search

Research Interests

Robotic Autonomy
Flight Software
Robotic operation
Reasoning under uncertainty
Filtering and state estimation


MSL CHIMRA Tunnel Anomaly Recovery Award, 2017
MSL AEGIS Team Award, 2016
MSL Cached Sample Operations Development Team Award, 2014
NASA Software of the Year Award, Mars Science Laboratory Flight Software Team, 2014
MSL Motor Control Team, NASA Honors Award, 2013
MSL Surface Sampling and Science Systems Team, NASA Honors Award, 2013
MSL Testbed + Simulation Support Equipment Team, NASA Honors Award, 2013
MER Electro-mechanical Failure Mitigation Team Award, NASA Honors Award, 2010
MSL Rover Motion Control Assembly EM Delivery Team Award, 2009
NASA Earth Science & Technology Directorate team award for Intelligent Autonomy Technology Transition Team, 2008
NASA Human-Robot Site Survey Project Team, NASA Honors Award, 2007
NASA Robotic Inspection at Meteor Crater, NASA Honors Award, 2006
Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship, 2001
First place, Mobile Robot Programming Contest, CMU, 1997


  1. V. Verma, D. Gaines, G. Rabideau. S. Schaffer, R. Joshi, "Autonomous Science Restart for the Planned Europa Mission with Lightweight Planning and Execution," International Workshop on Planning & Scheduling for Space, 01 January 2017.
  1. D. Gaines, G. Doran, H. Justice, G. Rabideau, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, K. Wagstaff, V. Vasavada, W. Huffman, R. Anderson, R. Mackey, T. Estlin, L. Fesq, M. Ingham, M. Maimone, I. Nesnas, "Productivity Challenges for Mars Rover Operations," International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), 01 January 2016.
  1. R. Francis, T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, R. Anderson, M. Burl, S. Chu, R. Castano, D. Thompson, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, G. Doran, "AEGIS autonomous targeting for the Curiosity rovers ChemCam instrument," Applied Imagery Pattern Recognition Workshop (AIPR), 2015 IEEE, 01 January 2015.
  1. T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, D. Thompson, A. Altinok, R. Anderson, M. Burl, R. Castano, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, T. Nelson, R. Weins, "Automated Targeting for the MSL Rover ChemCam Spectrometer," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS 2014), 01 January 2014.
  1. S. Dong, P. Conrad, J. Shah, B. Williams, D. Mittman, M. Ingham, V. Verma, "Compliant Task Execution and Learning for Safe Mixed-Initiative Human-Robot Operations," InfoTech 2011, 01 January 2011.
  1. V. Verma, V. Baskaran, H. Utz, R. Harris, C. Fry, "Demonstration of Robust Execution on a NASA Lunar Rover Testbed," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  2. D. Kortenkamp, P. Bonasso, D. Schreckenghost, K. Dalal, V. Verma, L. Wang, "A Procedure Representation Language for Human Spaceflight Operations," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  1. M. Bualat, L. Edwards, T. Fong, M. Broxton, L. Flueckiger, S. Lee, E. Park, V. To, H. Utz, V. Verma, C. Kunz, M. MacMahon, "Autonomous Robotic Inspection for Lunar Surface Operations," Field and Service Robotics Conference, 01 January 2007.
  1. V. Verma, T. Estlin, A. Jonsson, C. Pasareanu, R. Simmons, K. Tso, "Plan execution interchange language (PLEXIL) for executable plans and command sequences," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2005.
  2. D. Wettergreen, N. Cabrol, J. Teza, P. Tompkins, C. Urmson, V. Verma, M. Wagner, W. Whittaker, "First Experiments in the Robotic Investigation of Life in the Atacama Desert of Chile," International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2005.
  3. V. Verma, A. Jonsson, R. Simmons, T. Estlin, R. Levinson, "Survey of Command Execution Systems for NASA Spacecraft and Robots," The International Cnference on Automated Planning & Scheduling (ICAPS), 01 January 2005.
  1. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, "Efficient Monitoring for Planetary Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Space (iSAIRAS), 01 January 2003.
  2. V. Verma, S. Thrun, R. Simmons, "Variable Resolution Particle Filter," In Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Artificial intelligence (IJCAI), 01 January 2003.
  1. M. Montemerlo, J. Pineau, N. Roy, S. Thrun, V. Verma, "Experiences with a Mobile Robotic Guide for the Elderly," In Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 01 January 2002.
  2. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, S. Thrun, "Particle Filters for Rover Fault Diagnosis," Robotics & Automation Magazine, special issue on Human Centered Robotics and Dependability, 01 January 2002.
  1. S. Thrun. J. Langford, V. Verma, "Risk Sensitive Particle Filters," In Proceedings of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 01 January 2001.
  2. V. Verma, J. Langford, R. Simmons, "Non-Parametric Fault Identification for Space Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2001.
  1. S. Singh, R. Simmons, T. Smith, A. Stenz, V. Verma, A. Yahja, K. Schwehr, "Recent Progress in Local and Global Traversability for Planetary Rovers," Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2000.