Stefan Williams

Bio: Prof. Stefan B. Williams is the Professor of Marine Robotics at the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics where he leads Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Facility.  He is also the Head of the University of Sydney’s Digital Sciences Institute and the Co-Director of the NSW Space Research Network.  Stefan was the Head of School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering from 2016-2021 and an ARC Future Fellow.

Stefan’s research over the past two decades has focused on marine robotic systems. He has introduced fundamental new insights in the areas of navigation, planning, control and machine learning to allow these platforms to operate in challenging environments. In addition to contributions to the engineering sciences that underpin these advances, he has led major national programs aimed at introducing Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) systems in support of applications in ecology, archaeology and geoscience, developing close international networks of collaborators.

Stefan has been awarded multiple distinctions for his work including the 2020 VC Award for Outstanding Teaching and Research, the 2019 Payne Scott Professorial Distinction and in 2018 he was awarded Distinguished Lecturer by the IEEE Oceanographic Engineering Society.

Research Expertise: Stefan’s research interests include Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) in unstructured underwater environments, autonomous navigation and control and classification and clustering of large volumes of data collected by robotic systems. He has led research cruises to sites around Australia and overseas deploying AUV systems as part of studies in marine engineering, ecology, geoscience and archaeology.

Stefan will lead the Capability Demonstrator program for the Hub and is particularly interested in exploring autonomous intervention techniques that allow robots to build detailed maps of infrastructure and to use these to complete manipulation tasks in an autonomous manner.  This will require advances in perception, mapping, control and reasoning in order to allow these systems to interact safely with their immediate environment.

Stephan has led projects with Thales, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, IMOS, AIMS, NSW DPI Fisheries, Parks Australia, Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, SmartSat CRC, Mission Systems, Blueprint Lab, Advanced Navigation, Hullbot, Accenture, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, DLR (German Aerospace Agency), Investment NSW, NSW Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, CSIRO, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, SARDI.

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