Marine Robotics Group

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The Marine Robotics Group, headed by Prof. John J. Leonard, is part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in MIT. Our research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile operating in underwater and terrestrial environments. A primary goal of our ongoing research is persistent autonomy --- the capability for one or more robots to operate robustly for days, weeks and months at a time with minimal human supervision, in complex, dynamic environments. Taking the limit as time goes to infinity poses difficult challenges to our algorithms, but this is imperative for many applications of autonomous mobile robots. For example, security missions require the capability for robots to build and maintain maps of large areas, detecting changes and correcting their internal representations to maintain currency with the world.


June, 2013: Our lab was briefly featured in a Bloomberg Brink episode looking at Robotics technology in the Boston area video

June, 2013: Tom Whelan and I will give a joint presentation at the 2013 RGB-D: Advanced Reasoning with Depth Cameras Workshop at RSS 2013. video

May, 2013: Hordur Johannsson's paper at ICRA 2013 was a finalist for the Best Student Paper Award

May, 2013: Scanning objects and people using Baxter with Tom Whelan's Kintinuous software is featured in IEEE Spectrum link

April, 2013: University of Minnesota DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series Seminar: Watch online:

January, 2013: Hordur Johannsson successfully defended his PhD Thesis "Toward Lifelong Visual Localization and Mapping" pdf

January, 2013: Our group has had three papers accepted for ICRA 2013:

  • H. Johannsson, M. Kaess, M.F. Fallon, and J.J. Leonard. Temporally scalable visual SLAM using a reduced pose graph. pdf bibtex
  • D.M. Rosen, M. Kaess, and J.J. Leonard. Robust incremental online inference over sparse factor graphs: Beyond the Gaussian case. pdf bibtex
  • T. Whelan, H. Johannsson, M. Kaess, J.J. Leonard, and J.B. McDonald. Robust Real-Time Visual Odometry for Dense RGB-D Mapping. pdf bibtex video

Current Projects

  • Temporally Scalable Visual SLAM video
  • Spatially Extended Kinect Fusion (in collaboration with Tom Whelan and John McDonald at NUIM) video
  • Feature-based Navigation for AUVs
  • ONR GridCell MURI (PI: Mike Hasselmo at Boston University)
  • ONR Non-Parametric Bayes MURI (PI: Jon How at MIT LIDS)
  • SPHERES/Vertigo (in collaboration with the MIT Space Systems Laboratory)


Directions the Group Office Space
  • Prof Leonard's Office Room: 32-231
  • Group Office/Lab Space: 32-225
  • Autonomous Marine Vehicles Lab Space: 32-220
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