John Leonard is Vice President for Driving Research at Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Leonard is conducting research on autonomous driving with a focus on TRI's Guardian research project.
In addition, Leonard is a Samuel C. Collins Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering and Associate Department Head for Research in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is also a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots.
Leonard earned a B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering and Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987, and D.Phil. in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford in 1994. He joined the MIT faculty in 1996, after five years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Research Scientist in the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Laboratory.
He has served as an associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering and of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation. He was team leader for MIT's DARPA Urban Challenge team, which was one of eleven teams to qualify for the Urban Challenge final event and one of six teams to complete the race.
He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award (1998), an E.T.S. Walton Visitor Award from Science Foundation Ireland (2004), the King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Transactions on Robotics Paper Award (2006), and he is an IEEE Fellow (2014).