UNH Ocean Seminar

Making Our Oceans Smarter: Autonomous Systems for Marine Earth Sciences

M. Ani Hsieh
Associate Professor

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics
University of Pennsylvania

Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, 3:10pm
Chase 105

Robots and autonomous systems give us unprecedented access to landscapes and habitats both big and small.  They provide in-situ monitoring of the environments they are immersed in and can adapt their strategies to respond to various external stimuli.  These systems enable us to more richly and extensively interact with the world we live in, better our understanding of the complexities of the world, and assist in the discovery of new processes and phenomena.  However, there are significant and unique autonomy challenges when working in natural unstructured environments like oceans and rivers.  Robot dynamics are tightly coupled to those of the environment, while communication and localization are limited.

Control under these conditions can be exacting, but environmental dynamics may be harnessed to plan energy efficient paths and to maintain network connectivity.  Networked robot teams can collect data to construct high fidelity models of the environmental dynamics which can be integrated into robot control and planning.  Those same models can be used to guide robot control and sampling strategies to increase their predictive power.  In this talk, I will present our vision and efforts toward building a smart ocean observational framework which can be deployed to improve forecasting of weather-climate systems, mitigation of contaminant dispersions, and coordination of maritime search and rescue and humanitarian efforts.


M. Ani Hsieh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Deputy Director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory and Program Chair for the Robotics MSE Program. Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, multi-agent systems, and dynamical systems theory. Hsieh and her team design algorithms for estimation, control, and planning for multi-agent robotic systems with applications in environmental monitoring, estimation and prediction of complex dynamics, and design of collective behaviors. She received her B.S. in Engineering and B.A. in Economics from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Penn, she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Drexel University. Hsieh is the recipient of a 2012 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award and a 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.