Principal Technologist: Robert Ambrose

Rob-Ambrose_Thumb
Principal Technologist, Game Changing Development Program
Software, Robotics and Simulation Division
NASA Johnson Space Center
2101 NASA Parkway, Mail Code ER1
Houston Tx, 77058, USA
281.244.5561 (w)  ⋅  281.483.3204(f)
robert.o.ambrose@nasa.gov

Education:

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis (1986)
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis (1987)
Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin (1991)
Post Doctoral, Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin (1992)

Background:
Robert Ambrose has developed robotics and automation system solution for NASA, Department of Energy, defense and manufacturing applications.  His work has included sensing, mobility, manipulation and human-machine interaction techniques to produce work systems able to solve problems by teaming humans with machines.  He has previously worked for Metrica and MITRE.

Current Interests/focus:
Future work systems in space will blur the line between robotics and EVA.  Humans will be able to participate as either spacewalking astronauts, safely from inside spacecraft, or through remote supervision of robots from Earth.  New technologies will allow humans to interact with robots in deep space through telepresence, allowing scientists and students alike to explore and discover new worlds.

Future Plans:
Dr. Ambrose is looking for new ideas that will change how humans explore space, ideally with synergies for terrestrial challenges that enable NASA to help people here on Earth.

Dr. Rob Ambrose is currently overseeing one very large existing project and will likely be overseeing several new starts in the near future. In addition, he has three projects for FY12 that are being funded through FY12 with funds allocated in FY11.

Human Robotic Systems (HRS)
HRS is a well established, agency-wide, Exploration Technology Development (EDT) project, now under GCD. HRS develops advanced robotics technology to amplify human productivity and reduce mission risk by improving the effectiveness of human-robot teams. Key technologies include human-robot interaction, robotic assistance, and surface mobility systems. HRS is lead out of JSC by Dr. Bill Bluethmann, with leads at each center. There are currently 26 tasks under HRS spread across 8 NASA centers.

National Robotics Initiative (NRI) Grants
This is an Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) effort being worked with the White House, under the NRI, to provide grants to universities for projects. It is a joint effort between NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NSF has $30 Million to give out, NASA has $2.5M, and NIH and USDA have other funds. A solicitation for proposals was released. All proposals will go to the NSF. Proposal reviewers will be needed for this effort at some point. This task is funded by funds allocated in FY11 and runs through FY12.

Robonaut 2 (R2) Assembly
This is an Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) effort being worked with the White House, under the NRI, to build a batch of Robonauts to be sent out to universities. These will be 2nd generation Robonaut 2 units or R2s. The first in the series, R2A, was built in 2008 and is currently at JSC.  Robonaut unit R2B was built in 2009 and launched to the International Space Stations aboard STS 133 in 2011.  A new batch of R2’s is underway, with R2C1 now coming on line as a ground cert unit and R2C2 being sent to General Motors.  This effort will produce R2C3, R2C4 and R2C5 for rotation through university and research institute laboratories.   This task is funded by funds allocated in FY11 and runs through FY12.