Steven M. LaValle

Steve M. LaValle (born 1968 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American computer scientist, and a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also the Chief Scientist of VR/AR/MR at Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.[1][2] He is best known for his work on RRTs, the Oculus Rift, and his book, Planning Algorithms,[3] one of the most highly cited texts in the field. He also wrote a book titled Virtual Reality.[4]

Steve M. LaValle
Born1968 (age 5051)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Known forRRT, Oculus Rift
Scientific career
FieldsRobotics, virtual reality, control theory
InstitutionsUniversity of Oulu, Finland, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, Iowa State University
Doctoral advisorSeth Hutchinson

Academic career

LaValle received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990, 1993, and 1995, respectively. From 1995 to 1997, he was a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. From 1997 to 2001, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University. From 2001-2018 he was on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as a full professor.

In 2012 he was named "University Scholar" among six other professors at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.[5]

During 2015, he was featured on displays offering expert perspective in the Robot Revolution exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.[6]

He is currently a professor at the University of Oulu, Finland.

Oculus VR

During a leave of absence from the University of Illinois, LaValle started working for Oculus VR in September 2012, a few days after their Kickstarter campaign. He served as their principal scientist from March 2013[7] until the company was acquired by Facebook in July 2014,[8] addressing virtual reality challenges "including sensor fusion, magnetic drift correction, and kinematic modeling" while disseminating the company's technical achievements in a science blog.[7] He developed head tracking methods for the core software, based on IMUs and computer vision, and led a team of perceptual psychologists to provide principled approaches to virtual reality system calibration and the design of comfortable user experiences.[9] He was a coauthor of the first Oculus SDK Overview.[10]

He is a co-inventor on two Oculus VR patents. One (with Peter Giokaris) is for perception based predictive tracking for the Oculus Rift, which was crucial in reducing perceived tracking latency.[11] The other is for sensor calibration and filtering methods, which were important for highly accurate, low-latency tracking.[12]


  1. "Former Oculus VR head scientist to join Huawei". China Daily. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  2. "CES 2017: Tech preview of Las Vegas's biggest launches". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  3. LaValle, Steven (2006). Planning Algorithms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-86205-1. Available online at
  4. LaValle, Steven (2017). Virtual Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available online at
  5. "Seven Urbana campus faculty members named University Scholars". University of Illinois News.
  6. "LaValle Featured in MSI's Robot Revolution Exhibit". University of Illinois News. Archived from the original on 2015-06-17.
  7. "Meet Tom Forsyth and Steve LaValle, Science Blog, Nate's Talk at GDC, and Unity Trial Extensions". Oculus VR. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  8. "The 'big and rising area' of virtual-reality technology". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  9. "Robotics Meets Virtual Reality". MIT. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  10. "Oculus SDK Overview" (PDF). Oculus/Facebook. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  11. "Perception Based Predictive Tracking for Head Mounted Displays". US Government. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  12. "Calibration of Virtual Reality Systems". US Government. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
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