I’m excited to announce that I recently joined Zoox full-time! In my new role, I will be working as Principal Software Engineer within the Planning & Controls team, developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for autonomous decision-making, motion planning, and safety-critical controls.

For the last nine years, I have worked as supervisor of the Robotic Aerial Mobility group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system. I worked on many amazing projects at JPL during my time there, including driving three Rovers (Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance) and flying one helicopter (Ingenuity) on Mars. Most recently, I led the team that developed the novel AI flight software that enables Perseverance to drive autonomously on Mars. 

Olivier Toupet in Dumont Dunes, Mojave, CA

Testing with a surrogate Rover testbed in Dumont Dunes, Mojave, CA.

I believe that creating a purpose-built autonomous vehicle that operates in dense urban environments is an even harder challenge than putting a rover on Mars: it’s never been done before and is the new frontier in robotics. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, as such technology will not only revolutionize transportation, but also make the environment greener and save millions of lives. I decided to join Zoox full-time as I strongly believe in the company’s holistic vision and in its extremely talented crew. A company is only as good as its people, and I know first-hand how special the people at Zoox are. In this new role, I am most excited about applying my cutting-edge robotics expertise towards making the world safer, greener, and more enjoyable for everyone! Not to mention doing all that at a company that really values its employees and has a great integrated plan for accomplishing those goals.

Olivier Toupet standing next to the curiosity rover

The Curiosity Rover during the Autonomous Navigation System testing in the Mars Yard at JPL (hence the rocks of various sizes).

I was very lucky to have a broad career at JPL, which included working on state-of-the-art robotics research projects, developing mission-critical AI software for multi-billion-dollar flight projects, and doing both project and line management where I supervised large teams working on high-visibility high-impact projects. I hope that both my hard and soft skills, which I’ve been growing over the past 15+ years in the robotics industry, will allow me to make major contributions to the Zoox mission. As we say at JPL, I am looking forward to “daring mighty things” in my new adventure at Zoox!


  • Olivier Toupet. • Principal Software Engineer