Patrick McGarey

Currently at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)
Ph.D. (Autonomous Space Robotics Lab, UTIAS)
B.Sc. (Earth & Space Exploration - Systems Design, ASU)

Fulbright Canada S.T.E.M. Scholar

Institute for Aerospace Studies
University of Toronto
4925 Dufferin Street, Room 189
Toronto, ON M3H 5T6 Canada
patrick.mcgarey [at]
Google Scholar


EducationCurrent ResearchResearch ExperienceField ExperienceTeaching ExperienceDesign PortfolioPublications


  • [ 2013 - 2017 ] Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering, University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS)
  • [ 2010 - 2012 ] B.Sc. Exploration Systems Design, Summa Cum Laude (3.8-4.0 GPA), Arizona State University (ASU), School of Earth & Space Exploration (SESE)

Thesis Research: The Tethered Robotic Explorer (TReX)

Tethered mobile robots are ideal for mapping extreme environments because an attached electromechanical tether provides support on steep terrain, continuous power, and a reliable wired connection. These videos highlight my research with TReX, a platform that was designed for deployment to harsh environments for geologic survey, disaster response, and infrastructure inspection.

Research Experience

  • [ 2017 - current ] Robotics Technologist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)
  • [ 2013 - 2017 ] Ph.D. Researcher, ASRL, UTIAS: Tethered Robotic Explorer (TReX) for 3D Mapping of Steep Terrain and Harsh Environments
    • Research Threads:
      • > Systems design of the Tethered Robotic eXplorer (TReX):
        •  - A tethered mobile robot capable of 3D mapping and advanced mobility on steep terrain.
      • > Develop algorithms to enable tethered autonomy:
        •  - Tethered Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (TSLAM).
        •  - Autonomous route following for tethered robots traversing steep, cluttered terrain.
      • > 3D mapping in extreme environments
        •  - For geologic exploration and infrastructure inspection.

  • [ 2012 - 2013 ] Research Engineer, ASTRIL Field Robotics Lab at ASU:
    • Various field robotics projects:
      • > Autonomous kite (AUTOKITE) for digital elevation modeling of earthquake-prone regions along the San Andreas Fault.
      • > Low-cost, stereo, near-infrared camera (NIR-CAM) inspired by the Mars PanCam on the Curiosity rover.
      • > Initial prototype of the Exploration Geology and Geophysics Sensors (EGGS) for asteroid surface inspection.

  • [ 2012 - 2013 ] Research Engineer, Terahertz Astronomy Lab at ASU:
    • Design of a sub-millimeter, flexible waveguide circuit for the transmission of high-frequency analog signals for the Kilopixel Array Pathfinder Telescope, a balloon-borne instrument investigating the Cosmic Microwave Background.

Field Experience

  • [ 2016 ] Geologic Mapping with TReX (Sudbury, Ontario, Canada), Deployed the TReX robot on extremely steep rock outcrops in order to build a large-scale point cloud model of exposed rock units for the purpose of geologic/resource inspection.

  • [ 2015 ] Planetary Surface Processes Field School (Arizona and Utah, USA), Geologic field study of key sites in the southwest US to investigate volcanism, impact cratering, tectonics, and erosion.

  • [ 2013 ] Aerial Lava Field Mapping (Flagstaff, Arizona, USA), Piloted and collected images of SP and Sunset Craters from an aerial robot in order to produce high-resolution elevation models.

  • [ 2013 ] Aerial Earthquake Fault Mapping (Indio, California, USA), Aerial mapping of historic earthquake sites for the purpose of detecting eroded features and categorize complex fault movements.

  • [ 2012 ] High Altitude Turbine Survey (Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, USA), Deployed a student-made balloon payload to an altitude of 120,000 ft (36 km) to study wind turbine efficiency at varying altitudes.

Teaching Experience

  • [ 2017 ] Mobile Robotics (AER1514H) - Teaching Assistant, University of Toronto: Duties include setting up and supporting the robot platforms used for projects, marking midterms, and assisting with final projects.



  1. Patrick McGarey. "Towards Autonomy and Mobility for a Tethered Robot Exploring Extremely Steep Terrain." University of Toronto. 2017. [PDF]

Journal Papers

  1. Patrick McGarey, Kirk MacTavish, Francois Pomerleau, and Timothy D. Barfoot. "TSLAM: Tethered Simultaneous Localization and Mapping for Mobile Robots." In the International Journal of Robotics Research. 2017. [PDF]
  2. Patrick McGarey, Srikanth Saripalli. "AUTOKITE" Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems. 74(1-2), 363-370. 2014 [PDF]
  3. Kendra Johnson, Edwin Nissen, Srikanth Saripalli, J Ramón Arrowsmith, Patrick McGarey, Katherine Scharer, Patrick Williams and Kimberly Blisniuk. "Rapid mapping of ultrafine fault zone topography with structure from motion." Geosphere. 10(5), 969-986. 2014 [PDF]

Conference Papers


  1. Patrick McGarey, David Yoon, Tim Tang, Francois Pomerleau, and Timothy D. Barfoot. "Field Deployment of the Tethered Robotic eXplorer to Map Extremely Steep Terrain." In Proceedings of the Field and Service Robotics (FSR), Zurich, Switzerland, 12-15 September 2017.
  2. Patrick McGarey, Max Polzin, and Timothy D. Barfoot. "Falling in Line: Visual Route Following on Extreme Terrain for a Tethered Mobile Robot." In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Singapore, 29-2 June 2017. [PDF]
  3. Patrick McGarey, Kirk MacTavish, Francois Pomerleau, and Timothy D. Barfoot. "The Line Leading the Blind: Towards Nonvisual Localization and Mapping for Tethered Mobile Robots." In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Stockholm, Sweden, 16-21 May 2016. [PDF]
  4. Patrick McGarey, Francois Pomerleau, and Timothy D. Barfoot. "System Design of a Tethered Robotic Explorer (TReX) for 3D Mapping of Steep Terrain and Harsh Environments." In Proceedings of Field and Service Robotics (FSR), Toronto, Canada, 24-26 June 2015. [PDF]
  5. Patrick McGarey, Srikanth Saripalli. "Autokite experimental use of a low cost autonomous kite plane for aerial photography and reconnaissance." In Proceedings of the International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS). 2013. [PDF]
  6. Aravindhan K Krishnan, Patrick McGarey, Srikanth Saripalli, James F Bell. "NIR-CAM—Development of a Near Infrared Camera." In Proceedings of IEEE International Symposium on Robotic and Sensors Environments (ROSE). 2013. [PDF]

  1. Patrick McGarey, Hamdi Mani, Caleb Wheeler, Christopher E Groppi. "A 16 channel flex circuit for cryogenic microwave signal transmission." In Proceedings of SPIE Astronomical Telescopes+ Instrumentation. 2014. [PDF]
  2. Caleb H Wheeler, Christopher E Groppi, Hamdi Mani, Patrick McGarey, Linda Kuenzi, Sander Weinreb, Damon S Russell, Jacob W Kooi, Arthur W Lichtenberger, Christopher K Walker, Craig Kulesa "The Kilopixel Array Pathfinder Project (KAPPa), a 16 pixel integrated heterodyne focal plane array ." In Proceedings of SPIE Astronomical Telescopes+ Instrumentation. 2014. [PDF]