Prof. de Sousa: Maritime operations with multi-domain robotic vehicles: current trends and future developments

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in-person: B19, Hall 1; virtual participation: Zoom

Maritime operations with multi-domain robotic vehicles: current trends and future developments


Underwater, surface, air, and space robotic vehicles are already revolutionizing maritime operations. But this is just the beginning. Vehicle systems are reaching unprecedented levels of maturity and reliability, thus enabling persistent operations in remote areas. However, a significant number of COTS vehicles have not been designed for interactions and are not interoperable with other systems. But this will change, mainly because of demand in maritime operations.

This talk discusses current trends in maritime operations with multi-domain robotic vehicles systems and outlines future capabilities arising from teamed behaviors. These will be cyber-physical systems in which physical entities, such as robots or control stations, and computational entities, such as computer programs, will evolve and interact enabled by mobile computation, that has to do with virtual mobility (mobile software), and with mobile computing, that has to do with physical mobility (mobile hardware).New interaction capabilities will enable new forms of organization in which vehicle teams will deliver capabilities that are not present in individual vehicles, teams will exchange vehicles to sustain operations beyond endurance limitations of these vehicles, and new modes of team level planning, and execution control will become available to operators. Examples from developments and deployments undertaken by the Underwater Systems and Technologies Laboratory, Porto University, will illustrate some of these concepts.

Brief Biography

João Tasso de Figueiredo Borges de Sousa is with the ECE Department, Porto University, and is the head of the Underwater Systems and Technologies Laboratory – LSTS ( He holds a PhD and a MSc in ECE, both awarded by Porto University. His research interests include multi-domain unmanned vehicles, planning/execution control for networked vehicle systems, and applications to the ocean sciences, security, and defense. He received the BES Innovation National Award in 2006, an outstanding teaching award from Porto University in 2008, and the IEEE Ocean Engineering Society mid-career Rising Star award in 2018. He is the chair of the Swedish Marine Robotics Center Advisory Board, a member of the NATO MUS Innovation Advisory Board, and of the Advisory Board for SFI SmartOcean in Bergen, Norway. He was the chief scientist for the 2018 Schmidt Ocean Institute cruise Exploring Fronts with Multiple Robots. He was the chair of the 2013 IFAC Navigation, Guidance and Control Workshop and of the 2018 IEEE OES AUV Symposium. He has been co-organizing, since 2010, the REP(MUS) large-scale exercise in cooperation with the PO Navy, CMRE, and MUS-NATO. He is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering and has authored over 400 publications, including 50 journal papers.

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