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Thomas Curtin

Research Scientist/Engineer - Senior Principal & Washington, DC Representative






B.S. Physics, Boston College, 1967

M.S. Physical Oceanography, Oregon State University, 1969

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, University of Miami, 1979

M.B.A. Business Administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003


2000-present and while at APL-UW

FlowPilot: Shoreside autonomy for profiling floats

Szuts, Z., T. Harrison, T. Curtin, B. Kirby, and B. Ma, "FlowPilot: Shoreside autonomy for profiling floats," Proc., OCEANS, 25-28 September, Biloxi, MS, doi:10.23919/OCEANS52994.2023.10337384 (MTS/IEEE, 2023).

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11 Dec 2023

Over the last twenty years, profiling floats have revolutionized ocean observations with globally distributed Lagrangian arrays performing fixed vertical sampling cycles. Here we investigate adaptive sampling with an array of inter-dependent floats guided by a software package called FlowPilot, which uses all available float measurements to select park depths that provide favorable drifts based on sampling goals. Drift predictions are performed with multiple prediction methods, including methods that use float data (drift velocity, geostrophic velocity calculations) or from external sources like numerical ocean forecast models. A skill-based weight is assigned to each method based on how accurately it predicts recent drifts. With this generalized approach to prediction, disparate methods can be combined numerically to permit multi-method optimization. The emergent skill of FlowPilot is tested and quantified by numerical simulations that minimize dispersion by keeping a grid of floats close to the center of the deployment box.

Guest editorial pushing for higher autonomy and cooperative behaviors in maritime robotics

Djapic, V., T.B. Curtin, W.J. Kirkwood, J.R. Potter, and N.A. Cruz, "Guest editorial pushing for higher autonomy and cooperative behaviors in maritime robotics," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 44, 286-289, doi:, 2019

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15 Apr 2019

The papers in this special section examine the technology of maritime robotics. These papers are the result of a collaborative effort between the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), and RoboNation, a nonprofit robotics organization formerly known as AUVSI foundation. The field of maritime robotics is swiftly moving toward integration of air, surface, and subsurface autonomous systems. For example, where autonomous maritime systems (AMS) are composed of heterogeneous assets, surface vehicles are now often capable of transporting aerial and underwater vehicles, leveraging the benefits of each to increase mission endurance and capabilities. In seeking to integrate land, sea, and air vehicle systems, it is natural to look toward leveraging advances made separately in each domain. For example, substantial similarities exist between the desired behavioral capabilities of autonomous land vehicles and those of autonomous marine systems. Recent advances in the field of driverless cars may therefore be applicable to autonomous surface vessels, underwater vehicles, and even aerial vehicles.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center