LCSR Seminar: James Bellingham “Ocean Observing in the Age of Robots”
Progress in the ocean sciences has been fundamentally limited by the high cost of observing the ocean interior, which in turn has been driven by the necessity that humans go to sea to make those measurements. That linkage is being broken. We are on the cusp of an age where robotic systems will operate routinely without the on-site attendance of humans. In this talk I will discuss design of survey-class Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and multi-platform observing systems, some implications for the future of marine systems, and the impact on how we do science at sea. These topics are impossible to discuss without considering the larger ocean technology enterprise. The use of robotics has been a key enabler for the offshore oil and gas industry and is making large inroads to defense. As robotics become more capable and accessible, their impacts will spread, enabling entirely new ocean enterprises. Thus marine robotics both promise to greatly improve our ability to observe the ocean, while at the same time offering a powerful enabling technology for ocean industries.
James G. Bellingham research activities center on the creation of new, high-performance classes of underwater robots and the design and operations of large-scale multi-platform field programs. He has led and participated in research expeditions around the world from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Jim founded the Consortium for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), founded the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Laboratory at MIT, and co-founded Bluefin Robotics. He was Director of Engineering and Chief Technologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Jim serves on numerous advisory and National Academies studies. His awards include the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering, the MIT Fourteenth Robert Bruce Wallace lecturer, the Blue Innovation Rising Tides Award, and the Navy Superior Public Service Award.