Erik Komendera

Welcome to my research website!

Research Interests

I am a NASA roboticist concerned with practical and robust applications of autonomy for robots in the field. My interests are broadly centered on the problems associated with autonomous in-space assembly. The challenges that need to be overcome for autonomous assembly to be practical cut across the field of robotics. Solutions to these problems would lead to significant reduction in cost and risk, leading to more ambitious space structures and missions. Broadly, these challenges are:

  • Component and task variety: assembly requires joining various components using numerous joining methods, each of which requires the assembly robots to plan and maneuver in order to achieve these tasks.
  • Dexterous manipulation: in construction sites, workers collaboratively manipulate and attach components small and large; robots must perform similarly.
  • Task distribution: one robot cannot do it all, so dividing tasks and capabilities between robots simplifies each unit and makes the assembly system more robust.
  • State estimation: robots require a complete and accurate picture of not only the structural components, but also themselves and any obstacles in the environment; this requires adequate sensors and estimation algorithms.
  • Uncertainty handling: nothing goes exactly as planned, so the robots require the capability to detect a variety of things that could happen, and respond in a way that ensures the assembly process completes as intended.
  • Hardware verification: to be proven robust and practical, assembly methods must be verified on hardware in a relevant environment with representative components and joining methods.
Brief Bio

I am currently employed by NASA as a civil servant at Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. Before this, I was at the University of Colorado at Boulder from August 2010 to December 2014, earning my Masters and Ph.D. in Computer Science. Prior to grad school, I worked at FAAC Incorporated as an engineer from May 2007 to July 2010. I earned my BSE in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, attending from August 2003 to April 2007. I grew up in Fraser, Michigan.

Posing in front of Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah.