Marine robotics research at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping focuses on the development of new technologies to make the operation of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) practical and safe for marine science and hydrographic surveys. In these endeavors, the Center has deployed USVs from large ships, shore stations and over the horizon, and has more than a thousand hours of operation since 2015. Lessons learned have included methods for optimizing the use of multiple telemetry systems, managing telemetry link bandwidth, GUI tools and displays for operators that increase operational safety, maintenance schedules for technicians, forensic vehicle data archival and analysis, and various launch and recovery systems and methods. These topics and many more from our eight years of operations will be presented.
Avery Mu˜noz is a Research Project Engineer in the Center’s ASV lab. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Wentworth Institute of Technology, (Boston, MA, 2021) with a background in robotics, custom automation and AUVs. At UNH, Avery works as an engineer on the autonomous surface vehicle project developing control systems and tools to assist research.
Val Schmidt leads the Center’s marine robotics program, where he and a team of engineers and graduate students solve problems to “make autonomy practical.” Val holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics with Honors, from the University of the South, (Sewanee, TN, 1994), and a Master of Science in Ocean Engineering, with an emphasis in Ocean Mapping, from the University of New Hampshire’ s Category A Hydrographic program, (Durham, NH, 2008). From 1994-2000, Val served in the U.S. Navy as an Officer in the U.S. submarine fleet, as Radiological Controls Officer and later Sonar Officer aboard the USS Hawkbill. Since 2008, he and his team at CCOM have deployed un-crewed vehicles, from shore and from ships at sea, for marine science and seafloor mapping missions around the world, including recent missions with autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) from NOAA Ship Fairweather (2018), Exploration Vessel Nautilus (2017, 2018, 2021, 2022 x3), NOAA Ship Shearwater (2017), and NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson (2019 and 2022). Val has also deployed ASVs from shore in NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (2019 and 2021), and countless other day deployments from our own vessel and from shore off the New Hampshire coast.
Airlie Pickett is a Graduate student in the Ocean Engineering department pursuing a master’s degree in Ocean Engineering: Ocean Mapping. She attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for her undergraduate degree, graduating with a B.Sc. in Physics: Physical Oceanography in May of 2017. In July of 2017, she received a commission in the NOAA Corps, serving aboard NOAA Ship Rainier as a Junior Officer before reporting to the Marine Operations Center – Atlantic as the Operations Manager. While there, she augmented as the acting Operations Officer aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, and as a deck Watch Officer aboard NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler. At UNH her research focuses on operational optimization and feasility utilizing the USV DriX.