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 Robonaut2 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.


  • PickNik is organizing a MoveIt session at ROS World, a one-day online conference on all things ROS on November 12th. Stay tuned for details!
  • 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.
  • I taught a tutorial on sampling-based path planning at the First Summer School on Cognitive Robotics, held at MIT in June 2017.
  • The server for molecular docking of large ligands has been significantly enhanced. Give it a try! Dinler Antunes made some excellent video tutorials.
  • I taught a half-day lecture on sampling-based motion planning and its combination with task planning at the 2016 ICAPS Summer School.