Terry Fong

Expertise: Robotics
Affiliation: NASA Ames Research Center
Certification/Education: Ph.D., Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University
M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
B.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT

BASALT Research Objectives

Investigate how robots may be used before, in support, and following humans to increase the productivity and science return of planetary exploration missions. With robotic recon, we will study how a planetary rover can be used to scout sites prior to human fieldwork. With robotic support, we will examine how a planetary rover working in parallel to astronauts can enhance extra-vehicular activity (EVA). With robotic follow-up, we will test whether a planetary rover can return supplemental and complementary science data by performing fieldwork after humans leave.


Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at the NASA Ames Research Center. IRG (http://irg.arc.nasa.gov) develops robotic systems for planetary exploration and conducts applied research in a wide range of domains including mobile robotics, planetary mapmaking, ground data systems, 2D/3D computer vision, and robot software architecture. Fong is also Project Manager of the NASA Human Exploration Telerobotics (http://www.nasa.gov/telerobotics) project, which tests advanced telerobotic systems on the International Space Station.

Since 2007, Dr. Fong has led several Google-NASA information technology projects, which has included research and development of geospatial software tools, planetary data systems, and gigapixel panoramic imaging. From 2008 to 2011, Dr. Fong was the NASA Ames project manager for the NASA “Human-Robotic Systems” and “Lunar Mapping and Modeling” projects. In 2009, Dr. Fong was the Principal Investigator of the “Robotic Recon Experiment”. In 2005, Dr. Fong was Principal Investigator of the “Peer-to-Peer Human-Robot Interaction for Assembly and Maintenance” project and a scientist for the “Team-Centered Virtual Interactive Presence for Adaptive Autonomy” project.

Dr. Fong was formerly the deputy leader (2002-2004) of the Virtual Reality and Active Interfaces Group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology / Lausanne (EPFL). Prior to that, he was Vice President of Development (1997-2000) for Fourth Planet, Inc., a developer of real-time visualization software. From 1994 to 1997, Fong was a research assistant at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute and conducted research on autonomous vehicle control.

Fong received his B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. Fong has published more than one hundred papers in field and space robotics, human-robot interaction, and virtual reality user interfaces.