Remembering Prof. Dr. Alberto Elfes: 1953-2020 

July 5th, 2020

Alberto Elfes

A kind mind behind the use of occupancy grid for robot perception and navigation 

Alberto has been a huge influence and a powerful force in the robotics community worldwide. He joined CSIRO in 2011 after 10 years with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Principal Research Scientist. 

He was the Chief Research Scientist of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO’s Data61 in Brisbane, Australia. 

He had an impeccable field robotics heritage having completed his PhD at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) where he developed the occupancy grid framework for robot perception and navigation. 

He worked at CMU’s Robotics Institute, the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and became the Director of the Brazilian Automation Institute. 

He also held scientific positions in Germany and in his home country of Brazil. 

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Mercator Professorship Award of the German Research Foundation and held an honorary Professorship at The University of Queensland. 

Alberto had more than 180 publications in international journals, conference and books and gave over 350 invited and keynote talks during his career. 

He was a careful, strategic thinker who was passionate about robotics, had the vision to see where Australian robotics could take its place on the world stage and he was unfailingly positive about all things. 

The many people who were lucky enough to cross paths with him will certainly remember him as an extremely kind person, a supportive mentor and leader who leaves a huge gap in many hearts. He was taken from us too soon. 

An online memorial was setup so comforting messages could easily reach his family.

May you rest in peace, Alberto!