Our Team

Founded in 2015 for the Amazon Picking Challenge, PickNik’s team now has over 127 years of combined experience in the field of robotics and automation, bringing together deep academic background of robotic theory and robotics software development experience.

Dave Coleman, PhD

CEO / Roboticist

PhD Computer Science at CU Boulder focusing on motion planning and Mechanical Engineering B.S. at Georgia Tech. Dave has 13 years experience working in the field of robotics automation and is a leader in the open source MoveIt and ROS communities. His insights into robot-agnostic platforms for different morphologies, theoretical approaches, and different end-user requirements give him a well-rounded understanding for powerful robotic software. He has worked and consulted for all types of robotics companies including Google Robotics, Open Robotics, and Willow Garage.

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Mark Moll, PhD

Director of Research

PhD Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University and M.S. Computer Science University of Twente (the Netherlands). Mark has worked in robotics for more than 20 years, with a focus on motion planning. He has been leading the development of the Open Motion Planning Library, which is used by MoveIt as the default planning library. He has over 80 peer-reviewed publications. He has extensive experience deploying novel algorithms on a variety of robotic platforms, ranging from NASA's Robonaut2 to autonomous underwater vehicles and self-reconfigurable robots.

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Raminder Sandhu

Director of Business Development

M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University - concentration in Robotics and Controls Systems; B.Sc. (Honors) Electrical Engineering, Texas A&M University. Raminder brings 25 years of engineering, manufacturing automation and business development experience to PickNik. His areas of expertise include robotics, computer vision, medical devices and surgical tools, portable power systems, and product design and development. Prior to joining PickNik, he was the ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) southwest region representative.

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Nathan Brooks, PhD

Director of Engineering

PhD and M.S. Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at University of Tulsa. Nathan's graduate research focused on developing team planning techniques and interaction strategies improving operator supervision of large robot teams. Through this research, he has extensive experience with simulation platforms and field deployment logistics for unmanned vehicles on land, sea, and air.

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David Lu, PhD

Senior Navigation Roboticist

PhD Computer Science at Washington University in St. Louis focusing on contextualized robot navigation, and Computer Science B.S. at University of Rochester. He has been a leading member of the ROS community for over a decade, including maintaining the core ROS navigation stack and co-chairing ROSCon 2019. David was a key developer of the navigation capabilities of Locus Robotics' fleets of warehouse robots and Bossa Nova's shelf scanning robots, and has also collaborated with Willow Garage, Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, SWRI and NASA.

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Jill Berman

Director Of Operations

Jill is a data-driven business operations leader helping companies scale. Her 25 year career includes tenures at Sun Microsystems (exit: Oracle), Informix (exit: IBM), and Ooyala (exit: Telstra) running technical marketing programs, building professional services organizations, managing customer success teams, and leading company operations. With a focus on OKR / KPI-centric business development, process design / optimization, and sales workflows / automation, she helps businesses prepare for growth.

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Henning Kayser, MS

Applied Robotics Scientist

M.S. Computer Science at University of Hamburg with focus on motion planning and machine learning, B.S. Computer Science with focus on distributed systems. Broad experience with autonomous robots and scenarios with unstable dynamics like liquid pouring or pushing of objects. Expertise in motion planning, trajectory optimization, constrained and Cartesian path planning as well as 3D-perception and image processing. Winning team participant in the IROS 2018 Mobile Manipulation Hackathon.

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Andy Zelenak, PhD

Controls Engineer

PhD from the University of Texas, B.S. ME/EE from Colorado School of Mines. Andy has focused on bringing a more responsive, delicate touch to industrial robots, with emphasis on control theory. Andy has collaborated with roboticists in the nuclear, oil/gas, and aerospace domains. Some of his favorite projects were joint current based collision detection, balancing an egg between Motoman SIA5 manipulators, and design of teleoperation software for a dual-arm Clearpath robot.

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Tyler Weaver

Software Engineer - Robotics

B.S. Comp Engineering from DeVry Univ. Tyler has a talent for C++ and Python programming, having created many different software applications over the past decade. In 2013 he supported Special Operations in Afghanistan, and at DeVry Tyler built a stereo vision sensor for a robot competing in the CO Robotics Challenge. He has since developed software defined radio libraries for wireless communication and sensing applications. In that position, Tyler worked on a large legacy codebase adding new signal types and improving the accelerated math library.

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Jafar Abdi

Software Engineer - Robotics

B.S. Mechatronics Engineering from Karabuk University. Jafar started as an embedded system enthusiast before getting interested in robotics and software development; his favorite programming languages are C++ and Python, while he is also a fan of "Modern C++", a math lover, and believer in life-long learning.

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Jere Liukkonen, MS

Software Engineer - Robotics

M.S. Automation and Control Systems Engineering from Aalto University with a focus on mechatronics. Jere is a C++ enthusiast with background in computer vision and image processing. Before becoming a full-time roboticist, he worked with challenging computer vision problems with the most recent being analyzing medical images using deep neural networks.

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John Stechschulte, PhD

Perception Scientist

PhD and M.S. Computer Science CU Boulder, M.A. Secondary Education Johns Hopkins University, B.S. Materials Science and Engineering Cornell University. John's PhD research focused on information theory and probabilistic modeling for robot localization. His expertise includes visual-inertial odometry and point cloud registration, and he has experience with a variety of metric computer vision methods, GPGPU programming, and high performance computing.

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Alex Goldman, MS

Software Engineer - Robotics

M.S. Robotics and Autonomous Systems from Arizona State University with a focus on Artificial Intelligence. As a part of Alex’s graduate studies he spearheaded the creation of an autonomous underwater vehicle for coral reef mapping and monitoring, combining his loves for scuba diving and robotics. He has a background in entrepreneurship and product development and brings his customer-centric design approaches to robotic software development.

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Abishalini Sivaraman, MS

Software Engineer - Robotics

M.S. Computer Engineering and B.S. Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University (concentration in AI, ML and VR application development). Abi got into robotics primarily through extra curricular activities. A tinkerer by nature, she learned mechanical and electrical CAD softwares, machining, 3D printing, soldering, ROS and computer vision techniques while working on building an AUV and automating a Ford Focus.

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Sebastian Jahr

Robotics Intern

Pursuing a master's degree in Mechatronics and Information Technology with focus on robotics and B.S. Mechatronics and Information Technology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Besides his studies, Sebastian gathered experience with C++ and ROS as a student research assistant and software intern at Franka Emika. He is passionate about robotics and manipulation and eager to learn more about motion planning and control. During his internship, he will work on a hybrid planner architecture for MoveIt2.

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Tahnee Foley

Operations Assistant

Tahnee has over 20 years experience in business operations over a variety of industries including architecture and advertising. She was the Administrative Manager to the Design Team for the 2010 Olympic Village in Vancouver, Canada, a project that included coordinating over a dozen offices working to design and build 24 buildings in four years. Her passion is to see an efficient and effective organization while ensuring client satisfaction.

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Rob Coleman

Advisor

M.A. Asia-Pacific Studies, international trade and economic policy, National Chengchi University (Taiwan). B.A Political Science and B.A. Public Administration, Auburn University. Rob has lived on four continents and developed a talent for seeing the big picture while working for both startups and large organizations. Over the past ten years Rob has served in breadth of roles, including policy analyst, team leader of Marines, trade advocate, project manager, and business development manager. Rob enjoys new challenges and moving the status quo.

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Ioan Sucan, PhD

Advisor

PhD in Computer Science, Rice University, Ioan is the original author of MoveIt and the Open Motion Planning Library. In 2016 he was the winner of the IEEE RAS Early Career Award "for contributions to open source software for robot motion planning." He is currently a manager on the planning team at Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car division.

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Brian Gerkey, PhD

Advisor

Brian is CEO of Open Robotics, where they develop and drive adoption of open source software in robotics. Before Open Robotics, he was Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage, where they focus primarily on ROS. Before Willow, he was a computer scientist in the SRI Artificial Intelligence Center. Before that, he was a post-doctoral scholar in Sebastian Thrun‘s group in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. And before that, he did his PhD with Maja Matarić in the USC Interaction Lab.

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Mike Hurowitz

Advisor

Michael is CEO of Orbital Micro Systems and he is a serial entrepreneur and startup advisor. Michael's expertise is in research commercialization, bringing new technologies from the lab to market. He has delivered over $24B of space missions, $7B of commercial aircraft, and 127 new products developed working with 35 Fortune 500 companies and almost 60 startups, 14 federal agencies, and 16 university research groups.

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Jeff Rose

Advisor

Jeff is a Partner of Origin Rose, a strategic consulting company. Over the last 3 years, he also led ThinkTopic, a Boulder based AI company, as Co-founder and CEO. ThinkTopic has worked with a wide range of organizations, from the Asian Development Bank to Conde Nast and Digital Globe. Before starting ThinkTopic, Jeff was one of the first research engineers at (Google) DeepMind, where he collaborated with neuroscientists to develop novel machine learning algorithms.

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Mission
Statement

Support the worldwide open source robotics movement through community building, consulting expertise, and the development of highly-capable motion planning software.