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Virginia DEEP-X

About Us

The Virginia Distributed Environmental Exploration Project (Virginia DEEP-X) is an academic team consisting of students and faculty from Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University.  Our approach is to use a team of small, inexpensive autonomous underwater vehicles that collaborate to rapidly survey the deep ocean.   We have extensive experience developing and deploying new cooperation strategies for subsea robots, and developing new approaches for adaptive search and survey.  Our team also has extensive experience in the design and deployment of autonomous underwater vehicles with unique capabilities.  For the Ocean XPRIZE competition, we are developing a new autonomous underwater vehicle that is extraordinarily small and inexpensive, yet fully capable of operating autonomously in the deep ocean.  We will deploy up to 12 of them to adaptively survey the seafloor as a coordinated team.

Tech Information

The team is developing small and low-cost underwater vehicles that operate in coordinated teams.

About Team Leader

Dan Stilwell (team lead) is a Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He holds the PhD degree in EE from Johns Hopkins University. His research addresses both fundamental issues in autonomy and the development of new marine robots. Dr. Stilwell has lead or co-lead the development of several advanced autonomous vehicle platforms for marine applications, two of which have been transitioned to the US Navy. He is a recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program award and the National Science Foundation CAREER award, among other professional awards.

Team Members

Graduate Students:

Nick Stinson holds a BS in Ocean and Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is now a first-year graduate student pursuing a MS in Ocean Engineering in the Department Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research is on low Reynolds number propeller performance.

Larkin Heintzman holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Western Kentucky University. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Electrical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research addresses multirobot autonomy and cooperation.

Harun Yetkin holds an MS in electrical engineering from Ohio State University. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department a Virginia Tech. His research addresses search theory for autonomous vehicle applications.

Scott Gibson holds a BS in electrical engineering from Brigham Young University. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research addresses fundamental questions about how probabilistic knowledge of future events can improve decision-making and flight control performance for autonomous vehicle systems.

Jack Webster holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Tufts University. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research is focused on computational methods for design and optimization of autonomous underwater vehicle propulsion systems.

Abhilash Chowdhary holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science from IIIT Hyderabad. He is currently a MS candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research addresses the challenges in subsea navigation and mapping using autonomous underwater vehicles.

Stephen Krauss holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research addresses advanced subsea navigation.

Peter Scandalis holds a BS in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is currently an MS candidate in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. He is developing methods to sense turbulent flow using AUVs.

Undergraduate Students:

Up to 20 undergraduate students are being recruited to join the Virginia DEEP-X team by participating in undergraduate research projects during the Spring 2017 semester for which they will receive academic credit.

Faculty:

Dan Stilwell (team lead) is a Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He holds the PhD degree in EE from Johns Hopkins University. His research addresses both fundamental issues in autonomy and the development of new marine robots. Dr. Stilwell has lead or co-lead the development of several advanced autonomous vehicle platforms for marine applications, two of which have been transitioned to the US Navy. He is a recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program award and the National Science Foundation CAREER award, among other professional awards.

Mohamed Mekkawy (geotechnics, marine surveys) is an Assistant Professor in the Geotechnical Engineering at Old Dominon University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Mekkawy’s 10 years of professional experience with Fugro has focused on conducting and managing complex geoscience site investigations and subsurface characterization, among other applications. Dr. Mekkawy has worked on integration of geotechnical and geophysical techniques such as multi-beam bathymetry, sidescan sonar, agnetometer, and sub-bottom multi-channel seismic to develop complex geologic models that aids engineering design. Dr. Mekkawy received his BS (2003), MS (2004) and Ph.D. (2007) from Iowa State University.

Nina Stark (geotechnics, marine surveys) is an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. She received her PhD from the University of Bremen, Germany. 13 Her research is focused on coastal geotechnics, coastal and marine field surveying methods, subaqueous sediment dynamics, beach trafficability, and ocean renewable energy.

Pratap Tokekar (autonomy) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. He is a recipient of the NSF CISE Research Initiation Initiative award. His research interests include algorithmic and field robotics and cyber physical systems, and their applications to precision agriculture and environmental monitoring.

Wayne L. Neu (marine propulsion, AUV design) is an Associate Professor (retired) in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research addresses topics in fundamental turbulent flow, ocean waves, and ship design optimization. Since 2005, he has worked on hydrodynamics, propulsion and mechanical design for a number of unique autonomous underwater vehicles.

Craig Woolsey (dynamics and control) is a Professor in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering department at Virginia Tech. He holds a PhD degree from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research and teaching focus on the modeling and control of ocean and atmospheric vehicles. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award and the ONR Young Investigator Program Award.

Stefano Brizzolara (hydrodynamics and propulsion) is an Associate Professor in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. He holds the PhD degree in Naval Architecture from the University Federico II, Naples, Italy. He has previously worked in ship design at Fincantieri, and has recently been a Principal Research Scientist at MIT. His research addresses optimization of high efficiency, low noise propellers and unconventional hull forms.

Eric G. Paterson (computational fluid dynamics) is the Head of the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor of Marine Propulsion. He has over 30 years experience in fluid dynamics research and education. His research is focused on the intersection of ship hydrodynamics and physical oceanography, ocean in-situ and remote sensing, turbulence modeling for unsteady and transitional flows, and wind and wave energy.

Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (mechatronics and mechanical design) holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University Of Toronto, Canada. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the founding Director of the Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory at Virginia Tech. His current research interests include robotics and intelligent autonomous systems, mechatronics, mechanism design and system integration.

Ryan Williams (autonomy) holds a PhD from the University of Southern California in Electrical Engineering. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Virginia Tech where he runs the Virginia Tech Laboratory for Coordination at Scale (CASLab). His research interests include control, cooperation, and intelligence in distributed multi-agent systems. He is a recipient of the Viterbi Fellowship.
Team Leader:
Dan Stilwell
Location:
Blacksburg, VA, United States

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