John J. Leonard is Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering at MIT and a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots. Leonard was a pioneer in formulating the problem of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) in the mobile robotics research community. With his students and collaborators, he has developed several state-of-the-art robot navigation and mapping systems for robots operating in underwater and terrestrial environments. He has extensive experience deploying underwater robots systems for Navy missions such as mine-hunting and surveillance. He has lead several major initiatives for the Ocean of Naval Research, including a program to utilize SLAM for mine neutralization and program for cooperative navigation of multiple autonomous underwater vehicles and gliders. He was team leader for MIT’s DARPA Urban Challenge team, which was one of eleven teams to qualify for the Urban Challenge Final event and one of six teams to complete the race.
Prof. Leonard was the Co-Director of the Ford-MIT Alliance and Area Head for Ocean Science and Engineering in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has served as an associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering and of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation. He was one of three guest editors for the 2008 IEEE Transactions on Robotics Special Issue on Visual SLAM. He is an advisory board member of the University of Michigan Department of Naval Architecture and the Robotics: Science and Systems Foundation. He is the recipient of a Thouron Award (1987), an NSF Career Award (1998), a Science Foundation Ireland E.T.S. Walton Visitor Award (2004), the Best Paper Award at ACM SenSys in 2004 (shared with D. Moore, D. Rus, and S. Teller), and the King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Transactions on Robotics Paper Award in 2006 (shared with R. Eustice and H. Singh).