Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2017 - JAN 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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Q+A 66 unmanned systems inside December 2017/January 2018 Q G F Q: Are there marine industries, commercial industries that are being enabled by automation and robotics? a: As we move to offshore wind, offshore aquaculture there's a whole range of commercial activities in that much more demanding environment which are going to be less profitable—and for that matter fairly dangerous—if they depend on humans to do everything out there. JAMES BELLINGHAM is the fi rst director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Center for Marine Robotics. He previously served as director of engineering, then chief technologist, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). He founded and managed MIT's Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Laboratory and co-founded Bluefi n Robotics. Q: What do you see as the greatest opportunity for marine robotics? a: The ability to work at sea without being attended by a ship, ideally for extended periods of time, is one of the next big bridges we have to cross. Are you talking about robotic platforms? Absolutely yes—and you can even think about how unmanned drones would fit into that because if you're far offshore you're generating an enormous amount of data with these subsurface platforms. Do you really want to wait several weeks or even a couple of months before you'll get the data back, of course not, and yet the data is going to be so large you can't possibly fit it all through a satellite link. You need to actually physically carry the media—and I think that that's an opportunity for drones. Q: Does artifi cial intelligence (AI) factor into marine robotics? a: It's clear, that as various AI approaches have provided much better ability to interpret sophisticated data—and usually we think of vision data—so computer vision has really been revolutionized by machine learning. Q: What kind of technology and/or software do you see on the horizon? a: Currently all of the sonar systems that we use are done with more classical signal processing. Are we going to see a new generation of sonar systems with higher capabilities as, for example, machine learning is applied to signal processing in the acoustics domain? There's (also) some really exciting things going on potentially on the design and manufacturing side. They're kind of catalyzed by additive manufacturing but they're not really necessarily due explicitly to additive or 3-D printing. It's more like 3-D printing prompts rethinking about how you approach design and then a lot of the innovations come out of that. Q: How is the Center diff erent from other research organizations? a: The focus on enabling the startups is something which ...at least in the marine field, historically…was not around. The other thing is that we do have a focus on the use cases. So when I look at the rate of progress made in marine robotics a lot of that is determined not by our ability to solve problems but rather it's determined by the amount of resources that get freed up from the folks who ultimately are going to use it. And that, in turn, is something that we can do. We can bring them in earlier, we can socialize them to the opportunities, have them sort of be a part of the solution if you will. Five Good Questions JAMES BELLINGHAM

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