Marine Robotics

The field of marine robotics is rapidly growing, due in part to advances in energy storage, communication systems, and low-power computing. We address the engineering (software, mechanical, electrical, autonomy, communications), and operating environment challenges associated with mainstreaming state-of-art unmanned systems. Focuses include:

  • Evolving marine robotic systems to operate intelligently and reliably in challenging environments
  • Advancing onboard sensing and autonomy
  • Furthering the science of environmental awareness for optimal operation including route planning

Example research programs that use these technologies include deep water surveys of a historic DDT dump site and the development of data analytics to count thousands of small objects in sidescan data; Project Recover that relies upon the use of marine robotics to find aviation crash sites associated with MIA from past conflicts; and deployment of autonomous systems to study ocean physics.

Expeditionary and Remote Sensing

The marine environment remains under-sampled in time and space, with advances in oceanic sensing continuing to provide insights into the physical processes which control the budgets and fluxes within the ocean-atmosphere system. We develop and deploy environmental sensing instruments that persist above, on, or in the ocean and use those data to observe the environment. Focuses include:

  • Low power sensors that sample the environment, process data onboard in real-time, and report information back through satellite communication networks
  • Use of radar to remotely sense the ocean surface
  • Studies of air-sea interaction, wave physics, and boundary layer processes

Example programs include the Expeditionary Meterological Sensor (XMET); a GPS-based wave sensing drifting buoy, High Frequency (HF) radar for measurement of coastal currents through Doppler shift of Bragg energy; X-band radar for measurement of surface waves; and development of a Coastal Surveillance System to combat Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing in the Western Pacific.