Brian Wilcox

Interview Location: United States

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, Wilcox discusses his career and contributions in robotics, with a focus on his work with his own company and at JPL. Outlining his early involvement in computer technology and later in space robotics, he discusses his work on various projects, including the Mars rovers. Commenting on the technological challenges and development of robotics, he reflects on the future of computing and space exploration and provides advice for young people interested in the field.


Brian Wilcox was born in Ridgecrest, California and lived in China Lake, Washington, D.C., and Detroit until he moved to Santa Barbara, California where he remained throughout his college years. He attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, and attained a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics in 1973. Wilcox briefly attended Berkeley to study graduate level Physics before dropping out and founding Polymorphic Systems. He later received a M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1992 from the University of Southern California. Joining JPL in the summer of 1982, Wilcox has been involved in several robotics projects for planetary exploration, including the Mars Rover Sample Return and nanorover. Serving many roles at JPL throughout the years, such as Senior Engineer (1982-1985) and Supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles Group (1985-2005), he is currently Principle Investigator for the ATHLETE robot. With research interests focused on space robotics and robotic vehicles for planetary exploration, his contributions to the field have earned him several awards and honors, including the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal in 1992 and the JPL Award for Excellence in 1999.