Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Avionics Systems Engineer
Waiting on the Speed of Light: Engineering Autonomy at Mars
The vast distance between Earth and Mars means that even light travelling at 299,792 kilometers per second can take over twenty minutes to travel from Earthbound ground controllers to spacecraft on the Martian surface. This round trip communications delay of over half an hour means that the Curiosity Mars rover which landed in August 2012 had to complete its "Skycrane" Entry, Descent and Landing maneuver completely autonomously. As the rover continues to explore the Martian surface evaluating its past and present habitability for life, the spacecraft must be able to react autonomously to unexpected events. Luke’s talk will explore how the challenges presented by the long communication delays to spacecraft at Mars manifested themselves in the engineering of the systems onboard Curiosity.
About Luke Dubord
Luke Dubord is an Avionics System Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is currently the cross cutting infrastructure and autonomous fault protection lead on the Mars Science Laboratory mission that successfully landed on August 5th. Prior to working in fault protection, Luke was a member of the MSL Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) team, and worked on many aspects of the MSL computer and power systems, including being the lead system engineer for the development of the MSL pyrotechnics system. Luke was the system engineer on console for both MSL launch and Entry Descent and Landing, and was quite pleased that every pyrotechnic device fired correctly to land Curiosity on Mars! Prior to MSL, Luke also worked on numerous mission proposal teams at JPL performing mission concept development. Luke received his bachelors in 2003 from the University of Washington and his Masters in 2005 from Stanford, both in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with a focus in Dynamics and Controls.
About Mayim Bialik
Bialik made a name for herself in the entertainment business while at the same time developing a fascinating career in neuroscience, very similar to her Big Bang Theory character. After receiving her PhD in neuroscience at UCLA, Bialik had originally intended to become a research professor before she and her husband turned their focus toward their children. As if it's not enough to be a mom and an actress on a popular sitcom, Bialik designed a neuroscience curriculum for the home school community that covered everything from the brain's structure to the spinal cord to how the senses work, in addition to the ideas of the "early heavy hitters" in the science of the brain like Sigmund Freud and Ivan Pavlov. She also taught biology and chemistry to three different classes.
The New Era of Human 2.0: New Minds, New Bodies, New Identities
Society is at the threshold of a new age when machines will no longer be separate, lifeless mechanisms, but will instead be intimate extensions of the human body. Such a merging of body and machine will not only improve the quality of life for disabled people, but will allow persons with normal physiologies to experience augmented capabilities -- cognitively, emotionally and physically. Professor Hugh Herr of the MIT Media Lab describes “Human 2.0” — an era where technology will merge with our bodies and our minds to forever change our concept of human capability. Hugh features research work that is blurring the distinction between "able bodied" and "disabled," demonstrating technologies at the neural-digital interface. These new research initiatives are capable of addressing a plethora of conditions currently at clinical impasses, from social-emotional prostheses for persons with autism, to robots that monitor and protect the health of children or the elderly, to the development of smart prostheses that can emulate -- and even exceed the capabilities of—biological limbs. Hugh believes that through an ever-increasing technological sophistication, human disability will largely be eliminated in this 21st century, setting the stage for innovations that will ultimately benefit all humanity.
About Hugh Herr
Hugh Herr, who heads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, focuses on developing physically assistive technologies that will be intimate extensions of the human body—structurally, neurologically, and dynamically. A double amputee himself, Herr is the holder (or co-holder) of 14 patents related to assistive devices, including those for a computer-controlled artificial knee, commercially available as the Rheo Knee, an active ankle-foot orthosis, and the world's first powered ankle-foot prosthesis. The powered foot and ankle is being commercially produced by iWalk, a Media Lab spinoff company, of which Herr is founder and chief scientific officer. These devices are advancing an emerging field of science that applies the principles of muscle mechanics, neural control, and human biomechanics to guide the design of biomimetic robots and human rehabilitation devices. The goal is to rehabilitate individuals suffering from limb loss or pathology, and also to augment human physical capabilities.