Marco Pavone

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Assistant Professor
Stanford University
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Director, Autonomous Systems Laboratory
Assistant Professor (by courtesy), Department of Electrical Engineering
Assistant Professor (by courtesy), Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering
Assistant Professor (by courtesy), Information Systems Laboratory

Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010

Email: [last name]

Phone: (650) 723 4432

Dr. Marco Pavone is an Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, where he also holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Electrical Engineering, in the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, and in the Information Systems Laboratory. He is a Research Affiliate at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology. Before joining Stanford, he was a Research Technologist within the Robotics Section at JPL. He received a Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010. Dr. Pavone’s areas of expertise lie in the fields of controls and robotics.

Dr. Pavone is a recipient of a NASA Early Career Faculty award, a Hellman Faculty Scholar Award, and was named NASA NIAC Fellow in 2011. At JPL, Dr. Pavone worked on the end-to-end optimization of the mission architecture for the Mars sample return mission. He has designed control algorithms for formation flying that have been successfully tested on board the International Space Station.

Dr. Pavone is the Director of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL). The goal of ASL is the development of methodologies for the analysis, design, and control of autonomous systems, with a particular emphasis on large-scale robotic networks and autonomous aerospace vehicles. The lab combines expertise from control theory, robotics, optimization, and operations research to develop the theoretical foundations for networked autonomous systems operating in uncertain, rapidly-changing, and potentially adversarial environments. Theoretical insights are then used to devise practical, computationally-efficient, and provably-correct algorithms for field deployment. Applications include robotic transportation networks, sensor networks, agile control of spacecraft during proximity operations, and mobility platforms for extreme planetary environments. Collaborations with NASA centers are a key component of the research portfolio.

Specifically, ASL's current research is along four main dimensions:

  • Cooperative control of robotic networks with application to future urban transportation systems and formation flying (see videos of some tests in space).

  • Motion planning in dynamic and uncertain environments with application to spacecraft proximity operations (see project description)

  • Unconventional space robotics (see project description)

  • Risk-sensitive and risk-constrained stochastic optimal control

The publications of the ASL lab are available here.


  • September, 27, 2013: We submitted a paper about a unifying framework for time-consistent, risk-averse model predictive control to ACC 2014.

  • September, 20, 2013: We submitted a paper about decentralized decision-making on robotic networks with hybrid performance metrics to IEEE TCNS.

  • September, 15, 2013: We submitted a paper about the dynamical characterization of internally-actuated space rovers to ICRA 2014.

  • August, 25, 2013: We submitted a chapter about multi-vehicle routing for the Springer Encyclopedia of Systems and Control.

  • August, 8, 2013: Our paper about decentralized decision-making with hybrid performance metrics will appear at the Allerton Conference 2013.

  • July, 19, 2013: Our paper about computational methods for stochastic optimal control with risk constraints will appear at CDC 2013.

  • July, 15, 2013: We submitted a paper about fast marching methods for optimal sampling-based motion planning to ISRR 2013.

  • June, 15, 2013: our test bed for spacecraft proximity operations and formation flying is now operational.

  • April 2, 2013: The ASL lab contributed to a technology assessment for future planetary science missions.

  • Jan, 3, 2013: Our work on robotic platforms for small Solar system bodies is making again the media rounds! See, for example, NBC, Stanford News, Popular Science, The Verge, Slashdot, Huffington Post, The Register, and Times of India. Project website. Animation of mission architecture.

Recent and Upcoming Travels and Talks

  • IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Dec 10 - Dec 13, 2013, Florence, Italy

  • Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Arizona, Nov 7, 2013, Tucson, AZ

  • Aerospace Engineering Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oct 14, 2013, Urbana, IL

  • Computer Science Department, Oct 4, 2013, Merced, CA

  • National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering Program, Sep 19 - Sep 21, 2013, Wilmington, DE

  • NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Sep 18, Washington, DC

  • University of Waterloo, Sep 16, 2013, Waterloo, Canada

  • Robotics: Science and Systems Conference 2013, June 24 - June 28, Berlin, Germany

  • American Control Conference, June 17 - June 19, 2013, Washington, DC

  • IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2013, May 6 - May 10, Karlsruhe, Germany

  • IEEE Aerospace Conference 2013, Mar 2 - Mar 9, 2013, Big Sky, MT

  • SETI Institute, Feb 12, 2012, Mountain View, CA


Stanford University, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

William F. Durand Building, Rm. 261

496 Lomita Mall

Stanford, CA 94305-4035