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 the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, the Machine Learning Laboratory, the Robotics Consortium, the Center for Space Research, the Center for Autonomy, 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 our Research
We apply and develop new statistical tools to solve challenging problems in:
Nonlinear Estimation (using measurements to infer unknown quantities)
- Model-based estimation of highly nonlinear/non-Gaussian systems (Sequential Monte Carlo Methods and Gaussian Mixture Models)
- Data-driven estimation (Statistical Learning)
- Hybrid methods (model+data; physics-aided machine learning)
Autonomy (using data to learn and adapt to dynamic and unanticipated environment)
- Autonomous GPS-denied onboard navigation (with particular emphases on optical navigation)
- Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (sparse optimization and filtering methods)
- Autonomous Spacecraft Rendezvous
We also perform research in:
- Orbital dynamics uncertainty propagation and orbit determination
- 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.
About Joining the Lab
If you are interested in joining our group as a graduate student, please send an application to the aerospace or the CSEM graduate programs. 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, research statements, or inquiries about our group are not evaluated/responded to. We keep this website up to date in order to provide interested applicants with as much information as possible. During application and recruitment season we receive several emails a day inquiring about the lab, possible openings therein, and requesting meetings to discuss our research; please excuse us for our inability to replying to them or to meet. We do not plan to add new graduate students to the group in Spring 2023. We anticipate one open position in Fall 2023.
If you are a current UT student and are interested in joining the lab, we have very 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 M 427J, Differential Equations with Linear Algebra with a grade of at least A-
- Completed ASE 330M, Linear Systems Analysis with a grade of at least A-
- A GPA > 3.6
- While working in the lab, students must be enrolled in an undergraduate research class (typically ASE 179k)
Priority is given to students with knowledge of ROS and feedback controls. ASE 372k is strongly desired.
Post-Docs and Visiting Students
If you are interested in joining the lab as a visiting and/or 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 (half page) description of the research you would like to perform
- Email to email@example.com the research description together with the email address of at least two academic references 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 firstname.lastname@example.org the research description together with the email address of at least three academic references and a complete CV with list of publications
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer paid or unpaid internships.
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 (Raptor). Prior to departing from NASA, Renato delivered the design and code of three CSUs for Orion’s next flight: Exploration Mission 1 (later renamed Artemis 1).
Renato is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the International Society of Information Fusion. He is the chair of the AIAA Astrodynamics Technical Committee and a former chair of the AAS Space-Flight Mechanics Technical Committee. 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.