Friday, July 27, 2018

2018-07-27: Autonomy Incubator Welcomes NAVSEA

Dr. Julie Stark and a NAVSEA intern from Hampton University.

Wednesday afternoon, we hosted our first visitors in our new building!  Dr. Julie Stark from NAVSEA came with four interns to share with us their work and learn about our research.

Dr. Stark used to be an intern at NASA Langley when she was in the midst of her graduate studies.  At the time she was working in crew systems, and when she did her dissertation, it was actually in the flight simulator using real pilots.  Her research was based on topics related to synthetic vision, levels of automation, and eye tracking.

"I basically went to different people I worked with and said 'okay this is what I want to do for my dissertation- this fits in your milestone and yours and yours.'  Eventually someone I worked with actually said to me, 'you're crazy, you're never going to finish this!'"  Three and a half years later she ended up publishing her studies and winning awards for two of them!

After her research at NASA and her post-doc work, she went on to the Navy, "I was kind of a consultant for a little while, but now I've been at Carderock for about twelve to fifteen years."

Carderock is part of the Naval Sea Systems Command. Within the Navy, there are twelve different Workers' Centers, and Carderock is one of them, where they work with basically all surface vehicles.  To add, there are many divisions throughout their center, "we have people who work on submarines, we have people who work on air platforms, generally they're pay-loads to us but not always.  That's the greater Carderock, so we- everybody here- is in the code that we use for ship systems." Furthermore, their division is considerably large with about four hundred people and is located at Little Creek in Virginia.  

Ai members and the NAVSEA visitors gathered in our new conference room!

"I wear two hats," Dr. Stark explained.  "One of my jobs is to directly report to the captain, and then I'm also in charge of the Human Research Protection Program."  Within the craft division, she works with full life cycle engineering, meaning they design concept developments and prototypes.  "We design anything from a jet ski to specific things for special people, generally up to one hundred seventy feet."

NAVSEA works with just about all of the boats you see in Naval swarm demonstrations. "If you have seen a swarm thing done, and its a Navy thing, we do it, that's our group," Dr. Stark explained.

They now have a branch that is entirely focused on autonomy and unmanned systems and have been working to develop an unmanned systems laboratory that is very close to being finalized and available for demos.  "I want to be able to give you a full briefing to say here's our lab, and this is what we do," Dr. Stark told Danette and our team members.

Following her introduction statements and some fun videos, Javier Puig-Navarro and Meghan Chandarana, two very valuable interns at the Ai, gave presentations on our research and what we do here as well.  Danette also gave them a short tour of what our new space has to offer.

Hello from the observation room!

Dr. Julie Stark has been a colleague of Danette's for quite some time now, so we were all very happy to invite her and a portion of her team in for a visit.  Hopefully they can come again in the future to see how our new flight area will progress!

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