Seminar: Towards Automated Sample Collection and Return in Extreme Environments, 20th April, 1pm

When: Thursday 20th of April, 1pm AEST

Where: This seminar will be partially presented at the Rose Street Seminar area (J04) and partially online via Zoom. RSVP

Speaker: Gideon H. Billings

Title: Towards Automated Sample Collection and Return in Extreme Environments


Extra-terrestrial ocean worlds like Europa offer tantalizing targets in the search for extant life beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. However, reaching and exploring the underwater environments of these alien worlds is a task with immense challenges. Unlike terrestrial based missions, the exploration of ocean worlds necessitates robots which are capable of fully automated operation. These robots must rely on local sensors to interpret the scene, plan their motions, and complete their mission tasks. Manipulation tasks, such as sample collection, are particularly challenging in underwater environments, where the manipulation platform is mobile, and the environment is unstructured.

In this talk, I will present some of my dissertation work, funded by a NASA PSTAR grant, to develop methods for visual scene understanding and automated intervention with underwater vehicle manipulator systems (UVMSs). This work culminated in a research cruise, exploring the active submarine volcano, Kolumbo, in the Aegean Sea, where we demonstrated autonomous biological sample collection and return in the deep ocean.


Before joining the ACFR as a Postdoctoral Investigator, Gideon completed his PhD in Robotics at the University of Michigan, advised by Prof. Matthew Johnson-Roberson, followed by a short Postdoc at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), supervised by Dr. Richard Camilli. His prior research has focused on perception methods to support autonomous underwater manipulation and intervention. He is motivated in his research to develop robotic systems for the exploration of extreme, remote environments, where these systems must have the capacity for high-level perception, cognition, and autonomy. He has worked with many marine robotics platforms including AUVs, gliders, and work-class ROVs, with experience in hardware and software development and field operations of these systems. His work at ACFR continues his research on perception methods to support autonomous underwater manipulation in both structured and unstructured environments.


Australian Centre for Robotics