Larry Matthies

Larry Matthies

Senior Research Scientist Jet Propulsion Laborary/California Institute of Technology, CA

United States

Research Areas

Aerial Systems: Perception and Autonomy, Computer Science, Computer Vision for Other Robotics Applications, Field Robots, Localization, Range Sensing, Robots, Sensor Fusion, Space Robotics and Automation, Visual-Based Navigation


Larry Matthies received his PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1989, then moved to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is a Senior Research Scientist. He supervised the Computer Vision Group for 21 years and has been coordinating internal technology investments in the Mars office for 2 years. His research interests include 3-D perception, state estimation, terrain classification, and dynamic scene analysis for autonomous navigation of unmanned vehicles on Earth and in space. He has been a principal investigator in many programs involving robot vision funded by NASA, Army, Navy, DARPA, and commercial sponsors. He initiated new technology development that impacted every U.S. Mars surface mission since 1997, including visual navigation algorithms for rovers, map matching algorithms for precision landers, and autonomous navigation hardware and software architectures for rotorcraft. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Autonomous Robots journal and the Journal of Field Robotics, and has been an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California and a lecturer in computer vision at Caltech. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and was a joint winner in 2008 of the IEEE’s Robotics and Automation Award for his contributions to robotic space exploration.

Interview Synopsis

In this oral history, Larry Matthies covers his professional life in the field of Computer Robotics, taking us through his collegiate education and his career in robotics research, specifically his work with computer vision. Matthies offers his personal insight on the various projects he has collaborated on as well, from working for DARPA to NASA and his experience with the NASA Mars Rover project, for which he dedicated most of his career to. Matthies also touches upon his move back to academia and his thoughts on the future of the field of computer robotics.