Mark Moll is the Director of Research at PickNik, a robotics software development and consultancy company that is supporting the MoveIt motion planning framework. He is also a senior research scientist in the Computer Science Department at Rice University. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Mark Moll has worked in robotics for more than 20 years, with a focus on motion planning. He is leading the development of the Open Motion Planning Library (OMPL), which is widely used in industry and academic research (often via MoveIt / ROS). He has over 80 peer-reviewed publications with research contributions in applied algorithms for problems in robotics and computational structural biology. He has extensive experience deploying novel algorithms on a variety of robotic platforms, ranging from NASA’s Robonaut 2 to autonomous underwater vehicles and self-reconfigurable robots.

Mark Moll received an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University where he worked with Michael Erdmann and Matt Mason. Afterwards, he was a postdoctoral research associate in Lydia Kavraki’s group. After being a research scientist at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute for a while he returned to Rice University. In September 2019 he joined PickNik, while keeping a part-time appointment at Rice University.

More details can be found in his curriculum vitae.



  • Together with others from PickNik and Hello Robot I am organizing a workshop on mobile manipulation with MoveIt 2 at this year’s ROSCON, held in October in New Orleans, LA.
  • PickNik recently won a NASA SBIR Phase II grant (for which I am the PI) to develop new supervised autonomy solutions for application in space and on earth. The commercially available version is called MoveIt Studio, with an initial release slated for Summer 2021.
  • I gave an invited talk on robot autonomy at Galois in May 2021.
  • MoveIt has been selected again for the Google Summer of Code. Like last year, I am both an organizer and mentor.
  • I participated in a panel discussion of motion planning in industry on April 14 at the University of Michigan with George Konidaris (Realtime Robotics / Brown University), Michael Koval (Waymo), and Parker Owan (Amazon Robotics). Professor Dmitry Berenson from the University of Michigan moderated the discussion.
  • World MoveIt Day on March 10 was another successful edition of this yearly day-long hackathon and community event. We had lightning talks, lots of good discussions, and—of course—plenty of coding.



  • PickNik organized a well-attended MoveIt workshop after ROSCON 2019 in Macau. I gave a talk on guaranteeing optimality and satisfying hard constraints in motion planning using the Open Motion Planning Library.
  • I gave a talk entitled “Toward Robot Autonomy: Tasks, Plans, and Policies” at the Texas Systems Day on April 5, 2019 at Texas A&M.
  • I gave a talk entitled “Robot Motion Planning: Challenges and Opportunities for Increasing Robot Autonomy” at the Technology Collaboration Center’s Automation, AI & Robotics Workshop on March 27, 2019 held at the NASA Johnson Space Center.