Background and activities

Kanna holds an International Chair Professorship as an adjunt at NTNU's Engineering Cybernetics department (ITK) in Gløshaugen, Trondheim.

His career has spanned government, private industry and the non-profit world all in the United States and mostly in California. His background is in Autonomous Systems, in particular in Automated Planning and Execution and agent architectures. His work lies at the insticies of AI, Robotics and Oceanography. He spent more than 10 years at NASA Ames Research Center where his software flew on two space missions, the 1999 New Millennium Deep Space One Remote Agent Experiment (RAX) and the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers mission (MER) where he was the Principal Investigator of the MAPGEN command/control system of the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity on the surface of Mars. RAX was the first closed-loop AI-based controller in space. MAPGEN was the first AI-based system to control a vehicle on another planet. He has numerous awards from the US space agency, including a Software of the Year award and a Public Service Medal for the Remote Agent and an Exceptional Service Medal for MER.

Subsequently he moved to MBARI, a private non-profit ocean science and engineering institution in Monterey Bay, California while moving to work in the domain of Marine Robotics as the Principal Researcher for Autonomy. He joined ITK in 2016 while holding a courtesy appointment at Portugal's Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP) and its Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database





  • Guerra, Andre G.C.; Francisco, Frederico; Villate, Jaime; Agelet, Fernando; Bertolami, Orfeu; Rajan, Kanna. (2016) On small satellites for oceanography: A survey. Acta Astronautica. vol. 127.
  • Py, Frederic; Pinto, J; Silva, MA; Johansen, Tor Arne; Sousa, João Borges de; Rajan, Kanna. (2016) EUROPtus: A mixed-initiative controller for multi-vehicle oceanographic field experiments. Int. Symp. Experimental Robotics (ISER) ; Tokyo. 2016-10-03 - 2016-10-06.
  • Sousa, João Borges de; Rajan, Kanna; Pereira, J.; Pinto, J; Lourenco, PC; Galocha, JM; Fontes, Jorge; Johansen, Tor Arne; Incze, M; Alves, J; Pelekanakis, K; Munafo, A; Petroccia, R. (2016) Rapid Environmental Picture Atlantic exercise 2015: a field report. OCEANS 2016 MTS/IEEE Monterey.
  • Sousa, Lara L; López-Castejón, Francisco; Gilabert, Javier; Relvas, Paulo; Couto, Ana; Queiroz, Nuno; Caldas, Renato; Dias, Paulo Sousa; Dias, Hugo; Faria, Margarida; Ferreira, Filipe; Ferreira, António Sérgio; Fortuna, João; Gomes, Ricardo Joel; Loureiro, Bruno; Martins, Ricardo; Madureira, Luis; Neiva, Jorge; Oliveira, Marina; Pereira, João; Pinto, José; Py, Frederic; Queirós, Hugo; Silva, Daniel; Sujit, P. B.; Zolich, Artur Piotr; Johansen, Tor Arne; Sousa, João Borges de; Rajan, Kanna. (2016) Integrated monitoring of Mola mola behaviour in space and time. PLOS ONE. vol. 11 (8).