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Zakary Littlefield


I am a senior Ph.D candidate at Rutgers University, focusing on practical motion planning methods for kinodynamic systems. Finding solutions quickly for systems with dynamics is a difficult problem, and integrating intelligent algorithms and heuristics helps to solve this problem. I have also done research on motion planning for tensegrity-based rovers that require a physics engine for predicting motion.

I previously performed research as NASA Space Technology Research Fellow working on providing efficient planning methods for planetary rovers.

I originally was attending school at the University of Nevada, Reno, where I earned my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. My senior project was a development middleware for implementing obstacle avoidance algorithms on the Segway RMP platform. This project was created for the purpose of helping future project groups get into development quickly, along with easily integrating hardware and software. Our group was able to implement a simple obstacle avoidance algorithm, Vector Field Histogram, using this framework. Also implemented is an obstacle detection program that can estimate an obstacle's velocity.

During the summers of 2011 and 2012, I was a summer intern at NASA Ames Research Center. During that time, I implemented Field D*, an extension of D*, for rover navigation. This extension provides a mechanism to move anywhere in a grid representation, whereas D* would only allow to move between grid cell corners. Also, I explored possible extensions and data structures for implementing Field D* for grids that contained cells of different sizes.


Past Courses (Rutgers)

  • CS 513 - Design and Analysis of Algorithms and Data Structures
  • CS 515 - Programming Languages and Compilers
  • CS 529 - Computational Geometry
  • CS 534 - Computer Vision
  • CS 536 - Machine Learning
  • CS 673 - Seminar: Robotics

Related Past Courses (Nevada)

  • CS 282 - Simulation Physics
  • CS 425 - Software Engineering
  • CS 426 - Senior Projects
  • CS 480 - Graphics
  • CS 482 - Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 483 - Multi-Agent Systems
  • CS 493E - Directed Study - Topics in Motion Planning
  • CS 657 - Database Management Systems
  • CS 666 - Numerical Methods
  • CS 674 - Image Processing and Interpretation
  • CS 763 - Computability and Formal Languages
  • CS 773 - Optimal Control and Reinforcement Learning for Systems with Dynamics


  • NASA Space Technology Research Fellow
  • NASA Ames Research Center Summer Intern, 2011,2012
  • University of Nevada, Reno Honors Undergraduate Research Award (HURA) Recipient, 2011
  • University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering Undergraduate Dean's List, 2007-2011
  • University of Nevada, Reno Presidential Scholarship Recipient 2007

Contact Information

Email: zwl2/AT/