Dr Robert Ambrose - NASA
Tue 27 Sep 2016, 11:00 - 12:30
Informatics Forum (IF-G.07)

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Steph Smith (ssmith32)

Gateway Event

A new approach to human exploration will be presented:  using robots to pre-deploy and support equipment, facilities and logistics in advance of human arrival at other worlds.  The benefits of the pre-deployment approach will be outlined, including mass and cost savings as well as the benefit of testing transportation systems with non-human payloads before risking astronaut’s lives.  Next, the challenge of deploying and tending the equipment and facilities before human arrival will be described and mapped to the needed robotic functions.  Lessons learned from the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station will be presented, where a mix of humans and robot work today.  For destinations as far away as the Mars surface, NASA’s new robots will be on their own for potentially many years and at distances that will require increasing levels of autonomous operation.  Once humans arrive, the robots must be safe around people and transition from caretaking into crew assistance roles.

The talk will describe robots in development at NASA that are able to perform these setup and caretaking functions, enabling this new approach to human exploration.  Lastly, terrestrial applications for this robotic caretaker technology will be mentioned for use in tending facilities here on earth that are remote or dangerous, applying space technology to improving life on Earth.


Robert Ambrose received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in Mechanical Engineering. He received his M.S. and B. S. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Ambrose currently serves as the Division Chief of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, USA. The SR&S Division is responsible for flight spacecraft software, space robotics and system simulations for human spaceflight missions. Within the Division are five Branches responsible for managing on-orbit robotic systems for the International Space Station, development of software for the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle and future human spaceflight systems, simulations for engineering development and training, hardware and software GFE, hardware in the loop facilities for anomaly resolution and crew training, and the technology Branch for development of new robotic systems. Dr. Ambrose also serves as the Principal Technologist for NASA’s Space Technologies Mission Directorate, overseeing research and formulating new starts in the domains of robotics and autonomous systems.  He co-chairs the NASA Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems roadmap team, and is the robotics lead for the agency’s human spaceflight architecture study teams. Working with the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Dr. Ambrose is the Technical Point of Contact for NASA’s collaboration in the National Robotics Initiative (NRI). He is married to Dr. Catherine G. Ambrose and lives in Houston Texas.