We are an aerospace engineering research group that specializes in stochastic estimation and autonomous vehicles. We conduct theoretical research on uncertain systems, we are affiliated with UT’s Center for Space Research, the Robotics Consortium, and with the auto-GNC lab in the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics department. In the lab we are currently pursuing a full hardware-in-the-loop simulation of vision-based autonomous relative navigation. We are always looking for interesting problems to solve and for motivated graduate students to work on them! Are you an aerospace enthusiast with a solid background in math and engineering who is thinking about grad school? If so, please apply to our program and our group! We enjoy collaborating with both industrial partners to pursue applied research and development, and with governmental entities to develop new basic theoretical research.
About Joining the Lab
If you are interested in joining our group as a graduate student, please send an application to our graduate program. All complete applications are carefully reviewed. A good application contains a statement that identifies the research group(s) you would like to join and the topics you would like to investigate in your graduate studies. Feedback cannot be given on partial information, therefore emails containing CVs and brief statements are not evaluated.
If you are a current UT student and are interested in joining the lab, we have a few available spots for undergraduate research. In order for you to be fully successful in the lab, we require all our students to have:
- Completed ASE 330M, Linear Systems Analysis with a grade of at least B
- A GPA > 3.0
Post-Docs and Visiting Students
If you are interested in joining the lab as an exchange student, for example to perform research for a thesis, please follow these steps:
- Identify the topic of your research to ensure matches our lab’s core competencies
- Review our publications to ensure that they fit with your interests
- Write a brief (one or two paragraph) description of the research you would like to perform
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org the research description together with the email address of at least one academic reference and a CV
If you are interested in joining the lab as a Post-Doc, take the same four steps above, except:
- Write a full one-page description of your proposed research including its impact with respect to the current state of the art
- Email to email@example.com the research description together with the email address of at least two academic references and a complete CV with list of publications
About our Research
The main applications of our estimation techniques are:
- Autonomous navigation of spacecraft with particular emphases on rendezvous and GPS-denied environments
- Uncertainty quantification
- Orbital dynamics uncertainty propagation and orbit determination
- Vision-based onboard navigation
We also perform research in:
- Guidance and path-planning of autonomous vehicles
- Sensor fusion, sensor technology, and sensor utilization planning
- Spacecraft attitude dynamics, determination, and control
- Simulation of large, complex, uncertain dynamical systems
- Analytical and numerical methods in spacecraft guidance, navigation, and control
For more details on our current research projects and topics, please visit our research page.
Renato joined the Department or Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics in January 2017. Prior to joining UT, Renato worked for almost a decade in the private and government sectors.
From 2007 to 2013 Renato was an engineer at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. During this time he worked on every current and planned manned NASA vehicle: the International Space Station (ISS), the Space Shuttle, and Orion. He has been heavily involved in designing Orion navigation since the start of his professional career. Renato was the lead relative navigation designer for Orbital Sciences Cygnus vehicle, which completed several successful cargo resupply missions to the ISS. In 2013 he served as the lead of the Vehicles Dynamics and Control group at Draper. In this role he provided overall management and direction to ten engineers and several student interns/fellows.
From 2013 to 2017 Renato was an engineer at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). During this time he served as one of the lead designers of the absolute navigation filter for Orion EFT1, which successfully flew in December 2014. He was responsible for the design, coding, and testing of two navigation Computer Software Units (CSUs). During the EFT1 flight, he monitored the navigation telemetry from the engineering support room in Denver. Prior to departing from NASA, Renato delivered the design and code of three CSUs for Orion’s next flight: Exploration Mission 1.
Renato is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a former chair of the AAS Space-Flight Mechanics Technical Committee which organizes two astrodynamics technical conferences every year. Renato and the Orion GN&C group received the prestigious NASA Software of the year award in 2015. He is also the recipient of a NASA Technical Excellence Award for outstanding achievement in Orion navigation design, two NASA On the Spot awards, and several Team and Group Achievements Awards.