Richard Volpe

Richard Volpe

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), CA

United States

Research Areas

Control Design & Engineering, Robot Programming, Robots, Sensors


Richard Volpe received a B.S. in Physics from Loyola College in Baltimore in 1984. He later attended Carnegie Mellon University where he completed a M.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics in 1986 and 1990, respectively. Moving to JPL, he began working on manipulation and mobility projects. He served as lead engineer for the Rocky-7 rover, the manager for the Mars Regional Mobility and Subsurface Access in JPL’s Space Exploration Technology Program Office in 2001-2004, and is the current Section Manager for the Mobility and Robotics Systems Section of the Autonomous Systems Division as of 2004. Volpe has also been a member of JPL’s Science and Technology Management Committee (STMC) and the 2007 Phoenix Mission Robotic Arm team, as well as heavily involved in the technological development of robotic exploration of Mars and the Moon. His research interests focus on robotics and robot design, manipulation, real-time sensor-based control, natural terrain mobile robots, software architecture, and path planning.

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Volpe discusses his career in robotics, focusing on his research at CMU and work at JPL. Outlining his involvement in numerous projects, including Phoenix Mission Robotic Arm, Rocky-7, and MER, he provides insight on the organizational structure and the evolution of robotics at JPL. He also comments on the applications and challenges facing robotics, as well as provides advice for young people interested in the field.