News & Events


Rapid Adaptation of Deep Learning Teaches Drones to Survive Any Weather


To be truly useful, drones—that is, autonomous flying vehicles—will need to learn to navigate real-world weather and wind conditions. A team of engineers from Caltech has developed Neural-Fly, a deep-learning method that can help drones cope with new and unknown wind conditions in real time just by updating a few key parameters. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT CMS Yisong Yue Soon-Jo Chung Animashree Anandkumar Xichen Shi Guanya Shi Michael O'Connell Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

Student-Led Lunar Architecture Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition for Second Consecutive Year


Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater CMS Soon-Jo Chung Brit Wylie Luis Pabon Rithvik Musuku Kaila Coimbra Polina Verkhovodova Tyler Colenbrander Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Matticus Brown Sean Chang Bobby Daigle Nico Jimenez-Lozano Alec Laprevotte Joshua Lee Moya Ly Amrita Mayavaram Robert Menezes Nathan Ng Dilichi Nwankwo Jedi Alindogan Diego Attra Sulekha Kishore Aramis Mendoza Winter Pearson Jules Penot Kemal Pulungan Purvi Sehgal Parul Singh Aiden Swann Malcolm Tisdale Tomas Wexler Brooklyn Williams Benjamin Zeng Isabella Zuniga

Maximilian Adang Awarded Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


Undergraduate Maximilian Adang has been awarded the 2022 Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The highly selective program awards exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers with paid internships at cutting-edge commercial space companies. [Class of 2022]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE CMS Maximilian Adang

AIAA International Student Conference Winners


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the undergraduate, team, and graduate winners of the 2022 International Student Conference. Luis Pabon Madrid, Polina Verkhovodova, Malcom Tisdale, Isabella Dula, Kaila Coimbra, Tanmay Gupta, Leah Soldner, Rithvik Musuku, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, received 1st place in the Team Category for "Design of a Modular and Orientable Electrodynamic Shield for Lunar Dust Mitigation." The International Student Conference is an invitation-only student conference where first-place winners from each of the previous year’s AIAA Regional Student Conferences present their winning papers. [AIAA story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Luis Pabon Madrid Rithvik Musuku Leah Soldner Tanmay Gupta Kaila Coimbra Isabella Dula Malcom Tisdale Polina Verkhovodova

LEONARDO, the Bipedal Robot, Can Ride a Skateboard and Walk a Slackline


Researchers have built a bipedal robot that combines walking with flying to create a new type of locomotion, making it exceptionally nimble and capable of complex movements. "We drew inspiration from nature. Think about the way birds are able to flap and hop to navigate telephone lines," says Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist. "A complex yet intriguing behavior happens as birds move between walking and flying. We wanted to understand and learn from that." A paper titled "A bipedal walking robot that can fly, slackline, and skateboard" about the LEO robot was published online on October 6 and was featured on the October 2021 cover of Science Robotics. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Soon-Jo Chung Elena-Sorina Lupu Kyunam Kim Patrick Spieler Alireza Ramezani

New Algorithm Helps Autonomous Vehicles Find Themselves, Summer or Winter


Without GPS, autonomous systems get lost easily. Now a new algorithm developed at Caltech allows autonomous systems to recognize where they are simply by looking at the terrain around them—and for the first time, the technology works regardless of seasonal changes to that terrain. The general process, known as visual terrain-relative navigation (VTRN), was first developed in the 1960s. By comparing nearby terrain to high-resolution satellite images, autonomous systems can locate themselves. The problem is that, in order for it to work, the current generation of VTRN requires that the terrain it is looking at closely matches the images in its database. To overcome this challenge, Anthony Fragoso, Lecturer in Aerospace; Staff Scientist, Connor Lee, Graduate student in Aerospace, Austin McCoy, Undergraduate, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems and research scientist at JPL, turned to deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to remove seasonal content that hinders current VTRN systems. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Anthony Fragoso Connor Lee Austin McCoy

Honorable Mention Best Paper Award from IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters


Benjamin Rivière, ‪Wolfgang Hönig, Yisong Yue, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, have received an honorable mention for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters Best Paper Award for their paper titled "GLAS: Global-to-Local Safe Autonomy Synthesis for Multi-Robot Motion Planning With End-to-End Learning."

Tags: honors GALCIT CMS Yisong Yue CNS Soon-Jo Chung Benjamin Rivière Wolfgang Hönig

EAS New Horizons Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award


The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences seeks nominations to recognize and honor individuals within the EAS community who have actively contributed to EAS’s goal to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive engineering community. The award is available to members of the EAS community, including current students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty. Nominations are due Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and are accepted from anyone in the EAS community, EAS alumni and members of the Caltech community. Click here for full description of how to make a nomination.


Yashwanth Nakka Wins Best Graduate Student Paper Award


Graduate student Yashwanth Nakka, working with Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, and colleagues have won the Best Graduate Student Paper award at the 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum in the area of Guidance, Navigation, and Control. The paper is entitled “Information-Based Guidance and Control Architecture for Multi-Spacecraft On-Orbit Inspection,” and the co-authors are Caltech postdoctoral scholar Wolfgang Hoenig and research engineer Alexei Harvard, as well as JPL colleagues Changrak Choi and Amir Rahmani. This work was supported by the JPL-CAST Swarm Autonomy project. 

Tags: GALCIT CMS Soon-Jo Chung postdocs Yashwanth Nakka Wolfgang Hoenig Alexei Harvard Changrak Choi Amir Rahmani

FUTURE Ignited


Nearly 200 undergraduates from more than 120 colleges and universities across the country joined Caltech for FUTURE Ignited, a virtual event that aimed to encourage students of color to pursue graduate studies in science and engineering. The goal of FUTURE Ignited is to diversify STEM with students of color who will go on to become incredible graduate students and scientific leaders in their respective fields. [Caltech story]