Photo courtesy of Lance Hayashida/Caltech.
Melissa Tanner is a robotics graduate student at Caltech, where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. She received her S.B. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT in 2009, and her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech in 2011. At MIT she worked on imaging for a lunar rover, sensor fusion for an unmanned aerial vehicle, and navigation for a gardening robot. At Caltech she used a dynamically scaled robotic fruit fly to study the aerodynamics of insect flight. More recently, Ms. Tanner investigated wheel efficiency for the Axel rover, a 2-wheeled tethered extreme terrain robot developed in collaboration with JPL. Axel has been featured on television (National Geographic, NASA TV, and KTLA), on the radio (KPCC), as well as in several publications (New Scientist, Discovery, and peer-reviewed technical journals). She is currently investigating the effect of different sizes and shapes of Axel's caster arm, and working on a central module design to connect two Axel rover together into the DuAxel system. For her Ph.D. thesis, Ms. Tanner plans to develop an online path-planning algorithm for Axel.