Federico in front of Foucault's pendulum at the Pantheon, Paris. Image credit: Valentina Ricchiuti

I am a Robotics Technologist with the Maritime and Multi-Agent Autonomy Group (347N) in the Robotics Section of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

My current research focuses on optimal control and decision-making in multi-agent robotic systems, with applications to (i) swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and surface vessels for patrolling and exploration and (ii) coordination of fleets of self-driving cars for autonomous mobility-on-demand in urban environments.

I earned a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University under the guidance of Prof. Marco Pavone, director of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory. I received a M.Sc. in Space Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Torino and the Diploma from the Alta Scuola Politecnica in 2013. In 2011-2012, I spent seven months at SUPAERO as an exchange student (Admis Sur Titre). Prior to that, I received my B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Milano in 2010.

When not in the lab, I enjoy astronomy, photography and reading.

Research

Autonomous Mobility on Demand

A congestion-aware rebalancing algorithm delivers lower customer waiting times and less congestion than a legacy algorithm. From RSS '16

Self-driving cars can greatly increase safety of our roads and enhance mobility for those unable or unwilling to drive. Today, private vehicles spend more than 90% of their lives idle, parked either at home or at work. With self-driving cars, this could change drastically: shared autonomous vehicles, part of an Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD) system, could operate like taxis, driving from a passenger’s destination to the next passenger’s departure location. Fewer vehicles and, with no need to park, more room for homes and businesses!

But how should the passengers be assigned to the vehicles? Can we anticipate passenger demand and preemptively rebalance vehicles across a city to decrease waiting times? Can we ensure that self-driving vehicles won’t increase traffic congestion? If the vehicles are electric, when should we charge their batteries to make sure they are on the road when they are needed? Will thousands of vehicles recharging at once destabilize the power grid? How should these sistems interact with existing infrastructure, such as the subway and commuter trains? Our research strives to answer these questions.

Decentralized decision-making in robotic networks

Depending on the trade-off between robustness and energy consumption, agents connect in more or less hierarchical structures. From Allerton '13

How can networks of hundreds or thousands of robots make decisions quickly, efficiently and robustly? How much time, battery power and wireless bandwidth is required to reach an agreement in a robotic swarm?

Our research explores the fundamental performance limitations of distributed consensus and the tradeoffs between time complexity, message and byte complexity (both proxies to battery usage), bandwidth complexity and robustness of algorithms for decentralized decision-making. Applications include leader election, data fusion and distributed optimization in robotic networks.

GalapagosUAV: aerial patrolling for conservation

The Piquero UAV developed by USFQ with Jorge Pantoja. Photo by Santiago J. Gutierrez

In collaboration with Universidad San Francisco de Quito, we worked on the design, construction and deployment of a swarm of UAVs to protect sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve from illegal poaching.

Our contribution included design of deployment algorithms for dynamic coverage and hardware and software design of the communication subsystem to robustly transmit images and videos in real-time from the planes to a ground station. The project is currently in a hiatus (but sharks in the Galapagos are protected by a new marine sanctuary!).

Publications

Manuscripts

  1. A. Estandia, M. Schiffer, F. Rossi, E. C. Kara, R. Rajagopal, and M. Pavone, “On the Interaction between Autonomous Mobility on Demand Systems and Power Distribution Networks – An Optimal Power Flow Approach,” 2020. (Submitted)

    Abstract: In future transportation systems, the charging behavior of electric Autonomous Mobility on Demand (AMoD) fleets, i.e., fleets of self-driving cars that service on-demand trip requests, will likely challenge power distribution networks (PDNs), causing overloads or voltage drops. In this paper, we show that these challenges can be significantly attenuated if the PDNs’ operational constraints and exogenous loads (e.g., from homes or businesses) are considered when operating the electric AMoD fleet. We focus on a system-level perspective, assuming full cooperation between the AMoD and the PDN operators. Through this single entity perspective, we derive an upper bound on the benefits of coordination. We present an optimization-based modeling approach to jointly control an electric AMoD fleet and a series of PDNs, and analyze the benefit of coordination under load balancing constraints. For a case study in Orange County, CA, we show that coordinating the electric AMoD fleet and the PDNs helps to reduce 99% of overloads and 50% of voltage drops which the electric AMoD fleet causes without coordination. Our results show that coordinating electric AMoD and PDNs helps to level loads and can significantly postpone the point at which upgrading the network’s capacity to a larger scale becomes inevitable to preserve stability.

    BibTex:
    @unpublished{EstandiaSchifferEtAl2019,
      author = {Estandia, Alvaro and Schiffer, Maximilian and Rossi, Federico and Kara, Emre C and Rajagopal, Ram and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {On the Interaction between Autonomous Mobility on Demand Systems and Power Distribution Networks – An Optimal Power Flow Approach},
      note = {Submitted},
      year = {2020},
      code = {https://github.com/StanfordASL/unbalanced-opf-toolkit},
      keywords = {sub, AMoD},
      url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.00200}
    }
    
    Keywords: sub, AMoD
  2. S. Bae, F. Rossi, J. Vander Hook, S. Davidoff, and K.-L. Ma, “A Visual Analytics Approach to Debugging Cooperative, Autonomous Multi-Robot Systems’ Worldviews,” 2020. (Submitted)

    Abstract: Autonomous multi-robot systems, where a team of robots shares information to perform tasks that are beyond an individual robot’s abilities, hold great promise for a number of applications, such as planetary exploration missions. Each robot in a multi-robot system autonomously schedules which robot should perform a given task and when, using its worldview–the robot’s internal representation of its belief about both its own state, and other robots’ states. A key problem for operators is that robots’ worldviews can fall out of sync (often due to weak communication links), leading to desynchronization of the robots’ scheduling decisions and inconsistent emergent behavior (e.g., tasks not performed, or performed by multiple robots). Operators face the time-consuming and difficult task of making sense of the robots’ scheduling decisions, detecting de-synchronizations, and pinpointing the cause by comparing every robot’s worldview. To address these challenges, we introduce MOSAIC Viewer, a visual analytics system that helps operators (i) make sense of the robots’ schedules and (ii) detect and conduct a root cause analysis of the robots’ desynchronized worldviews. Over a year-long partnership with roboticists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we conduct a formative study to identify the necessary system design requirements and a qualitative evaluation with 12 roboticists. We find that that MOSAIC Viewer is faster- and easier-to-use than the users’ current approaches, and it allows them to stitch low-level details to formulate a high-level understanding of the robots’ schedules and detect and pinpoint the cause of the desynchronized worldviews.

    BibTex:
    @unpublished{BaeRossiEtAlAl2020,
      author = {Bae, Suyun and Rossi, Federico and Vander Hook, Joshua and Davidoff, Scott and Ma, Kwan-Liu},
      title = {A Visual Analytics Approach to Debugging Cooperative, Autonomous Multi-Robot Systems' Worldviews},
      note = {Submitted},
      year = {2020},
      keywords = {sub, JPL, Mosaic, Distributed systems, Distributed computing, visualization}
    }
    
    Keywords: sub, JPL, Mosaic, Distributed systems, Distributed computing, visualization
  3. R. A. Brown, F. Rossi, K. Solovey, M. Tsao, M. T. Wolf, and M. Pavone, “On local computation for optimization in multi-agent systems,” 2020. (Submitted)

    Abstract: A number of prototypical optimization problems in multi-agent systems (e.g., task allocation and network load-sharing) exhibit a highly local structure: that is, each agent’s decision variables are only directly coupled to few other agent’s variables through the objective function or the constraints. Nevertheless, existing algorithms for distributed optimization generally do not exploit the locality structure of the problem, requiring all agents to compute or exchange the full set of decision variables. In this paper, we develop a rigorous notion of "locality" that quantifies the degree to which agents can compute their portion of the global solution based solely on information in their local neighborhood. This notion provides a theoretical basis for a rather simple algorithm in which agents individually solve a truncated sub-problem of the global problem, where the size of the sub-problem used depends on the locality of the problem, and the desired accuracy. Numerical results show that the proposed theoretical bounds are remarkably tight for well-conditioned problems.

    BibTex:
    @unpublished{BrownRossiEtAl20b,
      author = {Brown, Robin A. and Rossi, Federico and Solovey, Kiril and Tsao, Matt and Wolf, Michael T. and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {On local computation for optimization in multi-agent systems},
      note = {Submitted},
      year = {2020},
      keywords = {sub, JPL, Stanford, Distributed systems, Distributed computing},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Brown.Rossi.ea.TCNS20.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: sub, JPL, Stanford, Distributed systems, Distributed computing

Journal Articles

  1. F. Rossi, R. Iglesias, M. Alizadeh, and M. Pavone, “On the interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems and the power network: models and coordination algorithms,” IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 384–397, 2020.

    Abstract: We study the interaction between a fleet of electric, self-driving vehicles servicing on-demand transportation requests (referred to as Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand, or AMoD, system) and the electric power network. We propose a joint linear model that captures the coupling between the two systems stemming from the vehicles’ charging requirements. The model subsumes existing network flow models for AMoD systems and linear models for the power network, and it captures time-varying customer demand and power generation costs, road congestion, and power transmission and distribution constraints. We then leverage the linear model to jointly optimize the operation of both systems. We propose an algorithmic procedure to losslessly reduce the problem size by bundling customer requests, allowing it to be efficiently solved by state-of-the-art linear programming solvers. Finally, we study the implementation of a hypothetical electric-powered AMoD system in Dallas-Fort Worth, and its impact on the Texas power network. We show that coordination between the AMoD system and the power network can reduce the overall energy expenditure compared to the case where no cars are present (despite the increased demand for electricity) and yield savings of $78M/year compared to an uncoordinated scenario. Collectively, the results of this paper provide a first-of-a-kind characterization of the interaction between electric-powered AMoD systems and the electric power network, and shed additional light on the economic and societal value of AMoD.

    BibTex:
    @article{RossiIglesiasEtAl2018b,
      author = {Rossi, Federico and Iglesias, Ramon and Alizadeh, Mahnoosh and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {On the interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems and the power network: models and coordination algorithms},
      journal = {{IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems}},
      year = {2020},
      volume = {7},
      number = {1},
      pages = {384--397},
      code = {https://github.com/StanfordASL/pamod},
      doi = {10.1109/TCNS.2019.2923384},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      owner = {frossi2},
      timestamp = {2018-10-17},
      url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.04906}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  2. M. Salazar, N. Lanzetti, F. Rossi, M. Schiffer, and M. Pavone, “Intermodal Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand,” IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 2019.

    Abstract: In this paper we study models and coordination policies for intermodal Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD), wherein a fleet of self-driving vehicles provides on-demand mobility jointly with public transit. Specifically, we first present a network flow model for intermodal AMoD, where we capture the coupling between AMoD and public transit and the goal is to maximize social welfare. Second, leveraging such a model, we design a pricing and tolling scheme that allows to achieve the social optimum under the assumption of a perfect market with selfish agents. Finally, we present a real-world case study for New York City. Our results show that the coordination between AMoD fleets and public transit can yield significant benefits compared to an AMoD system operating in isolation.

    BibTex:
    @article{SalazarEtAl2019,
      author = {Salazar, Mauro and Lanzetti, Nicolas and Rossi, Federico and Schiffer, Maximilian and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Intermodal Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand},
      journal = {{IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems}},
      year = {2019},
      doi = {10.1109/TITS.2019.2950720},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      owner = {frossi2},
      timestamp = {2018-06-15},
      url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.11278}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  3. F. Rossi, R. Zhang, Y. Hindy, and M. Pavone, “Routing Autonomous Vehicles in Congested Transportation Networks: Structural Properties and Coordination Algorithms,” Autonomous Robots, vol. 42, no. 7, pp. 1427–1442, 2018.

    Abstract: This paper considers the problem of routing and rebalancing a shared fleet of autonomous (i.e., self-driving) vehicles providing on-demand mobility within a capacitated transportation network, where congestion might disrupt throughput. We model the problem within a network flow framework and show that under relatively mild assumptions the rebalancing vehicles, if properly coordinated, do not lead to an increase in congestion (in stark contrast to common belief). From an algorithmic standpoint, such theoretical insight suggests that the problem of routing customers and rebalancing vehicles can be decoupled, which leads to a computationally-efficient routing and rebalancing algorithm for the autonomous vehicles. Numerical experiments and case studies corroborate our theoretical insights and show that the proposed algorithm outperforms state-of-the-art point-to-point methods by avoiding excess congestion on the road. Collectively, this paper provides a rigorous approach to the problem of congestion-aware, system-wide coordination of autonomously driving vehicles, and to the characterization of the sustainability of such robotic systems.

    BibTex:
    @article{RossiZhangEtAl2017,
      author = {Rossi, F. and Zhang, R. and Hindy, Y. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {Routing Autonomous Vehicles in Congested Transportation Networks: Structural Properties and Coordination Algorithms},
      journal = {{Autonomous Robots}},
      year = {2018},
      volume = {42},
      number = {7},
      pages = {1427--1442},
      code = {https://github.com/StanfordASL/matsim-amod},
      doi = {10.1007/s10514-018-9750-5},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Rossi.Zhang.Hindy.Pavone.AURO17.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  4. R. Iglesias, F. Rossi, R. Zhang, and M. Pavone, “A BCMP Network Approach to Modeling and Controlling Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems,” Int. Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 38, no. 2-3, pp. 357–374, 2018.

    Abstract: In this paper we present a queuing network approach to the problem of routing and rebalancing a fleet of self-driving vehicles providing on- demand mobility within a capacitated road network. We refer to such systems as autonomous mobility-on-demand systems, or AMoD. We first cast an AMoD system into a closed, multi-class BCMP queuing network model capable of capturing the passenger arrival process, traffic, the state- of-charge of electric vehicles, and the availability of vehicles at the stations. Second, we propose a scalable method for the synthesis of routing and charging policies, with performance guarantees in the limit of large fleet sizes. Third, we validate the theoretical results on a case study of New York City. Collectively, this paper provides a unifying framework for the analysis and control of AMoD systems, which provides a large set of modeling options (e.g., the inclusion of road capacities and charging constraints), and subsumes earlier Jackson and network flow models.

    BibTex:
    @article{IglesiasRossiEtAl2017,
      author = {Iglesias, R. and Rossi, F. and Zhang, R. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {A {BCMP} Network Approach to Modeling and Controlling Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems},
      journal = {{Int.\ Journal of Robotics Research}},
      year = {2018},
      volume = {38},
      number = {2-3},
      pages = {357--374},
      doi = {10.1177/0278364918780335},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Iglesias.Rossi.Zhang.Pavone.IJRR18.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  5. R. Zhang, F. Rossi, and M. Pavone, “Analysis, Control, and Evaluation of Mobility-on-Demand Systems: a Queueing-Theoretical Approach,” IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems, 2018.

    Abstract: This paper presents a queueing-theoretical approach to the analysis, control, and evaluation of mobility-on-demand (MoD) systems for urban personal transportation. A MoD system consists of a fleet of vehicles providing one-way car sharing service and a team of drivers to rebalance such vehicles. The drivers then rebalance themselves by driving select customers similar to a taxi service. We model the MoD system as two coupled closed Jackson networks with passenger loss. We show that the system can be approximately balanced by solving two decoupled linear programs and exactly balanced through nonlinear optimization. The rebalancing techniques are applied to a system sizing example using taxi data in three neighborhoods of Manhattan. Lastly, we formulate a real-time closed-loop rebalancing policy for drivers and perform case studies of two hypothetical MoD systems in Manhattan and Hangzhou, China. We show that the taxi demand in Manhattan can be met with the same number of vehicles in a MoD system, but only require 1/3 to 1/4 the number of drivers; in Hangzhou, where customer demand is highly unbalanced, higher driver-to-vehicle ratios are required to achieve good quality of service.

    BibTex:
    @article{ZhangPavone2018,
      author = {Zhang, Rick and Rossi, Federico and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Analysis, Control, and Evaluation of Mobility-on-Demand Systems: a Queueing-Theoretical Approach},
      journal = {{IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems}},
      year = {2018},
      doi = {10.1109/TCNS.2018.2800403},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      owner = {frossi2},
      timestamp = {2018-05-10},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Zhang.Rossi.Pavone.TCNS18.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD

Conference Articles

  1. R. A. Brown, F. Rossi, K. Solovey, M. T. Wolf, and M. Pavone, “Exploiting Locality and Structure for Distributed Optimization in Multi-Agent Systems,” in European Control Conference, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2020. (In Press)

    Abstract: A number of prototypical optimization problems in multi-agent systems (e.g. task allocation and network load-sharing) exhibit a highly local structure: that is, each agent’s decision variables are only directly coupled to few other agent’s variables through the objective function or the constraints. Nevertheless, existing algorithms for distributed optimization generally do not exploit the locality structure of the problem, requiring all agents to compute or exchange the full set of decision variables. In this paper, we develop a rigorous notion of “locality” that relates the structural properties of a linearly-constrained convex optimization problem (in particular, the sparsity structure of the constraint matrix and the objective function) to the amount of information that agents should exchange to compute an arbitrarily high-quality approximation to the problem from a cold-start. We leverage the notion of locality to develop a locality-aware distributed optimization algorithm, and we show that, for problems where individual agents only require to know a small portion of the optimal solution, the algorithm requires very limited inter-agent communication. Numerical results show that the convergence rate of our algorithm is directly explained by the locality parameter proposed, and that the proposed theoretical bounds are remarkably tight.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{BrownRossiEtAl20,
      author = {Brown, R. A. and Rossi, F. and Solovey, K. and Wolf, M. T. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {Exploiting Locality and Structure for Distributed Optimization in Multi-Agent Systems},
      booktitle = {{European Control Conference}},
      year = {2020},
      address = {St. Petersburg, Russia},
      month = may,
      note = {In Press},
      keywords = {press, Distributed systems},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Brown.Rossi.ea.ECC20.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: press, Distributed systems
  2. F. Rossi *, T. Stegun Vaquero *, M. Sanchez Net, M. Saboia, and J. Vander Hook, “The Pluggable Distributed Resource Allocator (PDRA): a Middleware for Distributed Computing in Mobile Robotic Networks,” in IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots & Systems, Las Vegas, NV, 2020. (In Press)

    Abstract: We present the Pluggable Distributed Resource Allocator (PDRA), a middleware for distributed computing in heterogeneous mobile robotic networks. PDRA enables autonomous agents to share computational resources for computationally expensive tasks such as localization and path planning. It sits between an existing single-agent planner/executor and existing computational resources (e.g. ROS packages), intercepts the executor’s requests and, if needed, transparently routes them to other nodes for execution. PDRA is pluggable: it can be integrated in an existing single-robot autonomy stack with minimal modifications. Task allocation decisions are performed by a mixed-integer programming algorithm, solved in a shared-world fashion, that models CPU resources, network bandwidth, and latency requirements, and minimizes overall energy usage or maximizes reward for completing optional tasks. Simulation results show that PDRA can reduce energy and CPU usage by over 50% in representative multi-robot scenarios compared to a naive scheduler; runs on embedded platforms; and performs well in delay- and disruption-tolerant networks (DTNs). PDRA is available to the community under an open-source license.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiVaqueroEtAl2020,
      author = {Rossi *, Federico and Stegun Vaquero *, Tiago and Sanchez Net, Marc and Saboia, Ma\'ira and Vander Hook, Joshua},
      title = {The Pluggable Distributed Resource Allocator (PDRA): a Middleware for Distributed Computing in Mobile Robotic Networks},
      booktitle = {{IEEE/RSJ Int.\ Conf.\ on Intelligent Robots \& Systems}},
      year = {2020},
      address = {Las Vegas, NV},
      month = oct,
      note = {In Press},
      code = {https://github.com/nasa/mosaic},
      keywords = {press, JPL, Distributed systems, Distributed computing, MOSAIC},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/abs/2003.13813}
    }
    
    Keywords: press, JPL, Distributed systems, Distributed computing, MOSAIC
  3. J. V. Hook et al., “Mars On-Site Shared Analytics Information and Computing,” in International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), Berkeley, CA, 2019, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 707–715.

    Abstract: We study the use of distributed computation in a representative multi-robot planetary exploration mission. We model a network of small rovers with access to computing resources from a static base station based on current design efforts and extrapolation from the Mars 2020 rover autonomy. The key algorithmic problem is simultaneous scheduling of computation, communication, and caching of data, as informed by an autonomous mission planner. We consider scheduling of a dependency chain of required and optional (but rewarding) tasks and present a consensus-backed scheduler for shared-world, distributed scheduling based on an Integer Linear Program. We validate the pipeline with simulation and field results. Our results are intended to provide a baseline comparison and motivating application domain for future research into network-aware decentralized scheduling and resource allocation.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{Hook2019,
      author = {Hook, Joshua Vander and Vaquero, Tiago Stegun and Rossi, Federico and Troesch, Martina and Sanchez-Net, Marc and Schoolcraft, Joshua and de la Croix, Jean-Pierre and Chien, Steve},
      title = {Mars On-Site Shared Analytics Information and Computing},
      booktitle = {{International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS)}},
      year = {2019},
      volume = {29},
      number = {1},
      pages = {707--715},
      address = {Berkeley, CA},
      month = jul,
      organization = {AAAI},
      code = {https://github.com/nasa/mosaic},
      keywords = {Distributed systems, JPL, MOSAIC},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Hook.Vaquero.Rossi.ea.ICAPS19.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems, JPL, MOSAIC
  4. A. Rahmani, S. Bandyopadhyay, F. Rossi, J.-P. de la Croix, J. V. Hook, and M. T. Wolf, “Space Vehicle Swarm Exploration Missions: A Study of Key Enabling Technologies and Gaps,” in Int. Astronautical Congress, Washington D.C., U.S.A., 2019.

    Abstract: Multi-agent robot teams and spacecraft swarms will play an important role in future space missions. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive taxonomy of proposed applications of systems in space, planetary-surface, and terrestrial domains. We identify the key enabling technologies that will enable such applications and identify the technology gaps that have to be overcome. We envisage that the broader community will strive to address these technology challenges to make multi-agent and swarm based space exploration missions a reality.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{Rahmani2019,
      author = {Rahmani, Amir and Bandyopadhyay, Saptarshi and Rossi, Federico and de la Croix, Jean-Pierre and Hook, Joshua Vander and Wolf, Michael T.},
      title = {Space Vehicle Swarm Exploration Missions: A Study of Key Enabling Technologies and Gaps},
      booktitle = {{Int.\ Astronautical Congress}},
      year = {2019},
      address = {Washington D.C., U.S.A.},
      month = nov,
      keywords = {Survey, JPL},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Rahmani.Bandyopadhyay.Rossi.ea.IAC19.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: Survey, JPL
  5. R. Iglesias, F. Rossi, K. Wang, D. Hallac, J. Leskovec, and M. Pavone, “Data-Driven Model Predictive Control of Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems,” in Proc. IEEE Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Brisbane, Australia, 2018.

    Abstract: The goal of this paper is to present an end-to-end, data-driven framework to control Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems (AMoD, i.e. fleets of self-driving vehicles). We first model the AMoD system using a time-expanded network, and present a formulation that computes the optimal rebalancing strategy (i.e., preemptive repositioning) and the minimum feasible fleet size for a given travel demand. Then, we adapt this formulation to devise a Model Predictive Control (MPC) algorithm that leverages short-term demand forecasts based on historical data to compute rebalancing strategies. We test the end-to-end performance of this controller with a state-of-the-art LSTM neural network to predict customer demand and real customer data from DiDi Chuxing: we show that this approach scales very well for large systems (indeed, the computational complexity of the MPC algorithm does not depend on the number of customers and of vehicles in the system) and outperforms state-of-the-art rebalancing strategies by reducing the mean customer wait time by up to to 89.6%.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{IglesiasRossiEtAl2018,
      author = {Iglesias, Ramon and Rossi, Federico and Wang, Kevin and Hallac, David and Leskovec, Jure and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Data-Driven Model Predictive Control of Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems},
      booktitle = {{Proc.\ IEEE Conf.\ on Robotics and Automation}},
      year = {2018},
      address = {Brisbane, Australia},
      month = may,
      doi = {10.1109/ICRA.2018.8460966},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      timestamp = {2018-01-14},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Iglesias.Rossi.Wang.ea.ICRA18.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  6. F. Rossi, R. Iglesias, M. Alizadeh, and M. Pavone, “On the interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems and the power network: models and coordination algorithms,” in Robotics: Science and Systems, 2018.

    Abstract: We study the interaction between a fleet of electric, self-driving vehicles servicing on-demand transportation requests (referred to as Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand, or AMoD, system) and the electric power network. We propose a joint linear model that captures the coupling between the two systems stemming from the vehicles’ charging requirements. The model subsumes existing network flow models for AMoD systems and linear models for the power network, and it captures time-varying customer demand and power generation costs, road congestion, and power transmission and distribution constraints. We then leverage the linear model to jointly optimize the operation of both systems. We propose an algorithmic procedure to losslessly reduce the problem size by bundling customer requests, allowing it to be efficiently solved by state-of-the-art linear programming solvers. Finally, we study the implementation of a hypothetical electric-powered AMoD system in Dallas-Fort Worth, and its impact on the Texas power network. We show that coordination between the AMoD system and the power network can reduce the overall energy expenditure compared to the case where no cars are present (despite the increased demand for electricity) and yield savings of $78M/year compared to an uncoordinated scenario. Collectively, the results of this paper provide a first-of-a-kind characterization of the interaction between electric-powered AMoD systems and the electric power network, and shed additional light on the economic and societal value of AMoD.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiIglesiasEtAl2018,
      author = {Rossi, F. and Iglesias, R. and Alizadeh, M. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {On the interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems and the power network: models and coordination algorithms},
      booktitle = {{Robotics: Science and Systems}},
      year = {2018},
      month = dec,
      aaddress = {Pittsburgh, PA},
      code = {https://github.com/StanfordASL/pamod},
      doi = {10.15607/RSS.2018.XIV.037},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      owner = {frossi2},
      timestamp = {2018-04-19},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Rossi.Iglesias.Alizadeh.Pavone.RSS18.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  7. F. Rossi, S. Bandyopadhyay, M. T. Wolf, and M. Pavone, “Review of Multi-Agent Algorithms for Collective Behavior: a Structural Taxonomy,” in IFAC Aerospace Controls TC Workshop: Networked & Autonomous Air & Space Systems (NAASS 2018), 2018.

    Abstract: In this paper, we review multi-agent collective behavior algorithms in the literature and classify them according to their underlying mathematical structure. For each mathematical technique, we identify the multi-agent coordination tasks it can be applied to, and we analyze its scalability, bandwidth use, and demonstrated maturity. We highlight how versatile techniques such as artificial potential functions can be used for applications ranging from low-level position control to high-level coordination and task allocation, we discuss possible reasons for the slow adoption of complex distributed coordination algorithms in the field, and we highlight areas for further research and development.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiBandyopadhyayEtAl2018,
      author = {Rossi, Federico and Bandyopadhyay, Saptarshi and Wolf, Michael T. and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Review of Multi-Agent Algorithms for Collective Behavior: a Structural Taxonomy},
      booktitle = {{IFAC Aerospace Controls TC Workshop: Networked \& Autonomous Air \& Space Systems (NAASS 2018)}},
      year = {2018},
      month = jun,
      keywords = {Distributed systems, Survey},
      owner = {frossi2},
      timestamp = {2018-02-01},
      url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.05464}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems, Survey
  8. M. Salazar, F. Rossi, M. Schiffer, C. H. Onder, and M. Pavone, “On the Interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand and the Public Transportation Systems,” in Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. on Intelligent Transportation Systems, Maui, Hawaii, 2018.

    Abstract: In this paper we study models and coordination policies for intermodal Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD), wherein a fleet of self-driving vehicles provides on-demand mobility jointly with public transit. Specifically, we first present a network flow model for intermodal AMoD, where we capture the coupling between AMoD and public transit and the goal is to maximize social welfare. Second, leveraging such a model, we design a pricing and tolling scheme that allows to achieve the social optimum under the assumption of a perfect market with selfish agents. Finally, we present a real-world case study for New York City. Our results show that the coordination between AMoD fleets and public transit can yield significant benefits compared to an AMoD system operating in isolation.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{SalazarRossiEtAl2018,
      author = {Salazar, Mauro and Rossi, Federico and Schiffer, Maximilian and Onder, Christopher H. and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {On the Interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand and the Public Transportation Systems},
      booktitle = {{Proc.\ IEEE Int.\ Conf.\ on Intelligent Transportation Systems}},
      year = {2018},
      address = {Maui, Hawaii},
      month = nov,
      note = {\textbf{Best Student Paper Award}},
      doi = {10.1109/ITSC.2018.8569381},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      timestamp = {2018-06-15},
      url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.11278}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  9. R. Zhang, F. Rossi, and M. Pavone, “Routing Autonomous Vehicles in Congested Transportation Networks: Structural Properties and Coordination Algorithms,” in Robotics: Science and Systems, 2016.

    Abstract: This paper considers the problem of routing and rebalancing a shared fleet of autonomous (i.e., self-driving) vehicles providing on-demand mobility within a capacitated transportation network, where congestion might disrupt throughput. We model the problem within a network flow framework and show that under relatively mild assumptions the rebalancing vehicles, if properly coordinated, do not lead to an increase in congestion (in stark contrast to common belief). From an algorithmic standpoint, such theoretical insight suggests that the problem of routing customers and rebalancing vehicles can be decoupled, which leads to a computationally-efficient routing and rebalancing algorithm for the autonomous vehicles. Numerical experiments and case studies corroborate our theoretical insights and show that the proposed algorithm outperforms state-of-the-art point-to-point methods by avoiding excess congestion on the road. Collectively, this paper provides a rigorous approach to the problem of congestion-aware, system-wide coordination of autonomously driving vehicles, and to the characterization of the sustainability of such robotic systems.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{ZhangRossiEtAl2016,
      author = {Zhang, R. and Rossi, F. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {Routing Autonomous Vehicles in Congested Transportation Networks: Structural Properties and Coordination Algorithms},
      booktitle = {{Robotics: Science and Systems}},
      year = {2016},
      month = jul,
      doi = {10.15607/rss.2016.xii.032},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      owner = {bylard},
      timestamp = {2017-01-28},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.00939}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  10. R. Iglesias, F. Rossi, R. Zhang, and M. Pavone, “A BCMP Network Approach to Modeling and Controlling Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems,” in Workshop on Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics, 2016.

    Abstract: In this paper, we present a queueing network approach to the problem of routing and rebalancing a fleet of self-driving vehicles providing on-demand mobility within a capacitated road network. We refer to such systems as autonomous mobility-on-demand systems, or AMoD. We first cast an AMoD system into a closed, multi-class BCMP queueing network model. Second, we present analysis tools that allow the characterization of performance metrics for a given routing policy, in terms, e.g., of vehicle availabilities and second-order moments of vehicle throughput. Third, we propose a scalable method for the synthesis of routing policies, with performance guarantees in the limit of large fleet sizes. Finally, we validate our theoretical results on a case study of New York City. Collectively, this paper provides a unifying framework for the analysis and control of AMoD systems, which subsumes earlier Jackson and flow network models, provides a quite large set of modeling options (e.g., the inclusion of road capacities and general travel time distributions), and allows the analysis of second and higher-order moments for the performance metrics.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{IglesiasRossiEtAl2016,
      author = {Iglesias, R. and Rossi, F. and Zhang, R. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {A {BCMP} Network Approach to Modeling and Controlling {Autonomous} {Mobility-on-Demand} Systems},
      booktitle = {{Workshop on Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics}},
      year = {2016},
      month = dec,
      keywords = {AMoD},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/pdf/1607.04357}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  11. R. Zhang, F. Rossi, and M. Pavone, “Model Predictive Control of Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems,” in Proc. IEEE Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Stockholm, Sweden, 2016.

    Abstract: In this paper we present a model predictive control (MPC) approach to optimize vehicle scheduling and routing in an autonomous mobility-on-demand (AMoD) system. In AMoD systems, robotic, self-driving vehicles transport customers within an urban environment and are coordinated to optimize service throughout the entire network. Specifically, we first propose a novel discrete-time model of an AMoD system and we show that this formulation allows the easy integration of a number of real-world constraints, e.g., electric vehicle charging constraints. Second, leveraging our model, we design a model predictive control algorithm for the optimal coordination of an AMoD system and prove its stability in the sense of Lyapunov. At each optimization step, the vehicle scheduling and routing problem is solved as a mixed integer linear program (MILP) where the decision variables are binary variables representing whether a vehicle will 1) wait at a station, 2) service a customer, or 3) rebalance to another station. Finally, by using real-world data, we show that the MPC algorithm can be run in real-time for moderately-sized systems and outperforms previous control strategies for AMoD systems.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{ZhangRossiEtAl2016b,
      author = {Zhang, R. and Rossi, F. and Pavone, M.},
      title = {Model Predictive Control of {Autonomous} {Mobility-on-Demand} Systems},
      booktitle = {{Proc.\ IEEE Conf.\ on Robotics and Automation}},
      year = {2016},
      address = {Stockholm, Sweden},
      month = may,
      doi = {10.1109/ICRA.2016.7487272},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.03985}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  12. F. Rossi and M. Pavone, “Distributed Consensus with Mixed Time/Communication Bandwidth Performance Metrics,” in Allerton Conf. on Communications, Control and Computing, 2014.

    Abstract: In this paper we study the inherent trade-off between time and communication complexity for the distributed consensus problem. In our model, communication complexity is measured as the maximum data throughput (in bits per second) sent through the network at a given instant. Such a notion of communication complexity, referred to as bandwidth complexity, is related to the frequency bandwidth a designer should collectively allocate to the agents if they were to communicate via a wireless channel, which represents an important constraint for dense robotic networks. We prove a lower bound on the bandwidth complexity of the consensus problem and provide a consensus algorithm that is bandwidth-optimal for a wide class of consensus functions. We then propose a distributed algorithm that can trade communication complexity versus time complexity as a function of a tunable parameter, which can be adjusted by a system designer as a function of the properties of the wireless communication channel. We rigorously characterize the tunable algorithm’s worst-case bandwidth complexity and show that it compares favorably with the bandwidth complexity of well-known consensus algorithm.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiPavone2014b,
      author = {Rossi, Federico and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Distributed Consensus with Mixed Time/Communication Bandwidth Performance Metrics},
      booktitle = {{Allerton Conf.\ on Communications, Control and Computing}},
      year = {2014},
      month = oct,
      doi = {10.1109/ALLERTON.2014.7028468},
      keywords = {Distributed systems},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.0956}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems
  13. F. Rossi and M. Pavone, “On the Fundamental Limitations of Performance for Distributed Decision-Making in Robotic Networks,” in Proc. IEEE Conf. on Decision and Control, Los Angeles, California, 2014.

    Abstract: This paper studies fundamental limitations of performance for distributed decision-making in robotic networks. The class of decision-making problems we consider encompasses a number of prototypical problems such as average-based consensus as well as distributed optimization, leader election, majority voting, MAX, MIN, and logical formulas. We first propose a formal model for distributed computation on robotic networks that is based on the concept of I/O automata and is inspired by the Computer Science literature on distributed computing clusters. Then, we present a number of bounds on time, message, and byte complexity, which we use to discuss the relative performance of a number of approaches for distributed decision-making. From a methodological standpoint, our work sheds light on the relation between the tools developed by the Computer Science and Controls communities on the topic of distributed algorithms.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiPavone2014,
      author = {Rossi, Federico and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {On the Fundamental Limitations of Performance for Distributed Decision-Making in Robotic Networks},
      booktitle = {{Proc.\ IEEE Conf.\ on Decision and Control}},
      year = {2014},
      address = {Los Angeles, California},
      month = dec,
      doi = {10.1109/CDC.2014.7039760},
      keywords = {Distributed systems},
      url = {http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.4863}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems
  14. F. Rossi and M. Pavone, “Decentralized Decision-Making on Robotic Networks with Hybrid Performance Metrics,” in Allerton Conf. on Communications, Control and Computing, 2013.

    Abstract: The past decade has witnessed a rapidly growing interest in decentralized algorithms for collective decision-making in cyber-physical networks. For a large variety of settings, control strategies are now known that either minimize time complexity (i.e., convergence time) or optimize communication complexity (i.e., number and size of exchanged messages). Yet, little attention has beed paid to the problem of studying the inherent trade-off between time and communication complexity. Generally speaking, time-optimal algorithms are fast and robust, but require a large (and sometimes impractical) number of exchanged messages; in contrast, communication optimal algorithms minimize the amount of information routed through the network, but are slow and sensitive to link failures. In this paper we address this gap by focusing on a generalized version of the decentralized consensus problem (that includes voting and mediation) on undirected network topologies and in the presence of "infrequent" link failures. We present and rigorously analyze a tunable, semi-hierarchical algorithm, where the tuning parameter allows a graceful transition from time-optimal to communication-optimal performance (hence, allowing hybrid performance metrics), and determines the algorithm’s robustness, measured as the time required to recover from a failure. An interesting feature of our algorithm is that it leads the decision-making agents to self-organize into a semi-hierarchical structure with variable-size clusters, among which information is flooded. Our results make use of a novel connection between the consensus problem and the theory of gamma synchronizers. Simulation experiments are presented and discussed.

    BibTex:
    @inproceedings{RossiPavone2013,
      author = {Rossi, Federico and Pavone, Marco},
      title = {Decentralized Decision-Making on Robotic Networks with Hybrid Performance Metrics},
      booktitle = {{Allerton Conf.\ on Communications, Control and Computing}},
      year = {2013},
      month = oct,
      doi = {10.1109/Allerton.2013.6736546},
      keywords = {Distributed systems},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Rossi.Pavone.Allerton13.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems

Theses

  1. F. Rossi, “On the Interaction between Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems and the Built Environment: Models and Large Scale Coordination Algorithms,” PhD thesis, Stanford University, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford, California, 2018.

    Abstract: Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand systems (that is, fleets of self-driving cars offering on-demand transportation) hold promise to reshape urban transportation by offering high quality of service at lower cost compared to private vehicles. However, the impact of such systems on the infrastructure of our cities (and in particular on traffic congestion and the electric power network) is an active area of research. In particular, Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD) systems could greatly increase traffic congestion due to additional "rebalancing" trips required to re-align the distribution of available vehicles with customer demand; furthermore, charging of large fleets of electric vehicles can induce significantly stress in the electric power network, leading to high electricity prices and potential network instability. In this thesis, we build analytical tools and algorithms to model and control the interaction between AMoD systems and our cities. We open our work by exploring the interaction between AMoD systems and urban congestion. Leveraging the theory of network flows, we devise models for AMoD systems that capture endogenous traffic congestion and are amenable to efficient optimization. These models allow us to show the key theoretical result that, under mild assumptions that are substantially verified for U.S. cities, AMoD systems do not increase congestion compared to privately-owned vehicles for a given level of customer demand if empty-traveling vehicles are properly routed. We leverage this insight to design a real-time congestion-aware routing algorithm for empty vehicles; microscopic agent-based simulations with New York City taxi data show that the algorithm significantly reduces congestion compared to a state-of-the-art congestion-agnostic rebalancing algorithm, resulting in 22% lower wait times for AMoD customers. We then devise a randomized congestion-aware routing algorithm for customer-carrying vehicles and prove rigorous analytical bounds on its performance. Preliminary results based on New York City taxi data show that the algorithm could yield a further reduction in congestion and, as a result, 5% lower service times for AMoD customers. We then turn our attention to the interaction between AMoD fleets with electric vehicles and the power network. We extend the network flow model developed in the first part of the thesis to capture the vehicles’ state-of-charge and their interaction with the power network (including charging and the ability to inject power in the network in exchange for a payment, denoted as "vehicle-to-grid"). We devise an algorithmic procedure to losslessly reduce the size of the resulting model, making it amenable to efficient optimization, and test our models and optimization algorithms on a hypothetical deployment of an AMoD system in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX with the goal of maximizing social welfare. Simulation results show that coordination between the AMoD system and the power network can reduce electricity prices by over 180M/year, with savings of 120M/year for local power network customers and $35M/year for the AMoD operator. In order to realize such benefits, the transportation operator must cooperate with the power network: we prove that a pricing scheme can be used to enforce the socially optimal solution as a general equilibrium, aligning the interests of a self-interested transportation operator and self-interested power generators with the goal of maximizing social welfare. We then design privacy-preserving algorithms to compute such coordination-promoting prices in a distributed fashion. Finally, we propose a receding-horizon implementation that trades off optimality for speed and demonstrate that it can be deployed in real-time with microscopic simulations in Dallas-Fort Worth. Collectively, these results lay the foundations for congestion-aware and power-aware control of AMoD systems; in particular, the models and algorithms in this thesis provide tools that will enable transportation network operators and urban planners to foster the positive externalities of AMoD and avoid the negative ones, thus fully realizing the benefits of AMoD systems in our cities.

    BibTex:
    @phdthesis{Rossi2018,
      author = {Rossi, Federico},
      title = {On the Interaction between {Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand} Systems and the Built Environment: Models and Large Scale Coordination Algorithms},
      school = {Stanford University, Dept.\ of Aeronautics and Astronautics},
      year = {2018},
      address = {Stanford, California},
      month = mar,
      permalink = {https://purl.stanford.edu/fk416tj3277},
      keywords = {AMoD},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/dissertation/}
    }
    
    Keywords: AMoD
  2. F. Rossi, “Decision making on robotic networks with hybrid performance metrics for planetary exploration applications,” Master's thesis, Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, 2013.

    Abstract: This thesis is about distributed consensus on robotic networks for planetary exploration. The advantages of distributed architectures for space exploration have long been studied; furthermore, multiagent architectures are extremely advantageous on small solar system bodies, whose low gravity and uncertain dynamic environment make traditional mobility paradigms unapplicable. Relativistic delays make autonomy paramount for all probes operating beyond Earth orbit. Yet no energy-efficient procedures for autonomous consensus on robotic networks exist: current algorithms are either optimized for ground-based applications or largely inefficient. The purpose of this thesis is to design efficient algorithms to reach an agreement between cooperative stationary or slow-moving robotic agents. We explore metrics describing time performance, power consumption and robustness; we propose time-optimal and energy-optimal algorithms and show how optimality with respect to one parameter typically leads to very bad performance with respect to other metrics. We then design a novel hybrid algorithm that scales from time-optimal to message-optimal behavior, trading time performance and robustness for energy efficiency, according to an user-defined tuning parameter. Worst- case performance of the algorithm is investigated analytically; real-world performance on a simplified space exploration scenario is explored through numerical simulations with satisfactory results. Future research directions will include extension of our work to fast-moving robotic networks such as swarms of planetary hoppers, optimization with respect to legacy omnidirectional (broadcast) communication protocols and application to problems such as UAV deployment for patrolling and ATC conflict resolution.

    BibTex:
    @mastersthesis{FR:13,
      author = {Rossi, Federico},
      title = {Decision making on robotic networks with hybrid performance metrics for planetary exploration applications},
      school = {Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali},
      year = {2013},
      doi = {10589/81446},
      keywords = {Distributed systems},
      pages = {132},
      url = {https://www.federico.io/pdf/Rossi.MSc.pdf}
    }
    
    Keywords: Distributed systems

Teaching and mentorship

I was the Teaching Assistant for Stanford’s Optimal Control and Introduction to Dynamic Optimization class (AA 203) in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

AA 203 includes a large final project: I immensely enjoyed advising students on projects including identifying the root cause of mobility impairment in patients suffering from stroke, controlling flexible surgical robots and tensegrity structures, and computing maximum-drift trajectories for Marty, Stanford’s self-driving DeLorean.

I have also been very fortunate to mentor a number of brilliant high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who participated in internships with the Autonomous Systems Lab and with JPL, and in the the Alta Scuola Politecnica’s alumni mentoring program.

Past and current mentees include:

  • Quinn Wu (Gunn High School), now at UPenn
  • Ivan Maric (UC Berkeley), now at UCSD
  • Luke Shimanuki (Amador Valley High School), now at MIT
  • Leonardo Franco-Munoz (Woodside High School), now at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Maggie Wang (Gunn High School), now at Harvard
  • Daniel Torres (Eastside College Preparatory School)
  • Yousef Hindy (Stanford University)
  • Tommaso Guffanti (PoliMi), now at Stanford
  • Dustin Dopsa (PoliTo)
  • Giada Risso (PoliTo), now at ETH
  • Francesca Mignacco (PoliTo), now at CEA Paris-Saclay
  • Andrea Morelli (PoliMi)
  • Sandra Bae (UC Davis), now at CU Boulder

Musings

Occasionally, mentees and prospective students in Marco's lab ask me questions like "How was your Ph.D.", or "How is it like to work in aerospace as a foreign national", or "how did you get your green card". I love answering these questions: it is a great way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

I obtained a self-sponsored EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) green card in 2019, just after grad school, from a F-1 visa. This post summarizes the story of my application, including mountains of paperwork, fees, travel restriction - oh, and waiting! The post was born as ar reply to a fellow JPLer’s e-mail, and it is quite JPL-centric. It was quite cathartic for me to write – hope it will be useful for you as well.

Working as a foreign national in the US. aerospace industry is tricky. You are up against ITAR and EAR regulations, which are a major headache for employers. But it is doable, especially if you work in research. Here is my trajectory. Like all others, this post was born in reply to a foreign national undergrad’s e-mail.

Here are some things I wish I had known when I started a Ph.D, in no particular order. This post was born as a monologue for undergrads who asked “what is a Ph.D. like?”, and solidified in writing in response to a very bright (and bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed) mentee’s e-mail who was wondering about grad school. It is not meant as a guide - this is just my (n=1) experience.

Contact Me