DoD Scientist of the Quarter

Dr. James T. Hing awarded DoD Scientist of Quarter, recognized for robotics

Among many other achievements, Dr. James T. Hing really knows how to clear a deck.

In fact, for his research in using robotics to reduce workload and increase safety for Sailors on the flight deck, Hing, a Naval Air Systems Command engineer, has been named the Department of Defense Laboratory Scientist for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.

Dr. James Hing, Robotics Science and Technology Engineer with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, shakes hands with Mr. Daniel A. Ormond, Principal Director, Research, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research & Engineering), after receiving the Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter award for Fiscal Year 2017, First Quarter. Dr. James Hing, Robotics Science and Technology Engineer with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, shakes hands with Mr. Daniel A. Ormond, Principal Director, Research, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research & Engineering), after receiving the Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter award for Fiscal Year 2017, First Quarter.

A recognized leader in robotics at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) in Lakehurst, New Jersey, Hing focuses on integrating everyday, affordable hardware solutions into challenging Navy and Marine operational environments. He’s authored 19 publications on the subject. The aircraft carrier environment is especially challenging for robotics. The deck is a crowded, cluttered obstacle course of seen and unseen obstacles and moving parts. Imagine electromagnetic interference from radars, the full range of illumination conditions—from sun glare to pitch darkness—ship motion, and multiple taxiing aircraft with engines running. Automating tasks, like moving and loading weapons and refueling and maintaining aircraft, could save considerable work, as well as improve safety. Dr. Hing crafted a cohesive set of technologies that can deliver an autonomous, safe, and reliable capability to the carrier. They include:

  • Autonomous swarm parking. It takes many Sailors using a variety of skids and forklifts to move materials around on a ship. Hing’s approach enables a single operator to control multiple autonomous vehicles equipped with mechanization and sensors. The sensors are combined with programmed behaviors that allow the vehicles to move independently toward a common goal, morphing into different formations to avoid obstacles and navigate through the narrow passageways found on a ship.
  • Image processing in degraded visibility environments. Image degradation in the aircraft carrier environment can be caused by rain, fog, steam, sea spray, and particulates on the camera lens. Hing’s approach to rebuilding the image tailored to each obscurant allows machine vision systems aboard ship to function effectively in a wide range of conditions.
  • Multi-mode sensor fusion for object localization in the presence of obscurants. Multiple sensor modalities and a robust control scheme enable a robotic vehicle to deftly switch to an alternate sensor based on how the environment degrades. For example, if sun glare begins to wash out video imagery, the vehicle would rely less on electro-optic cameras and more on radio frequency or sonar.

Dr. Hing earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 2010 and began his career at NAWCAD the same year. In 2014, he founded the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) Laboratory at NAWCAD Lakehurst, which he also manages. An adjunct professor for Drexel University, he mentors the Storm Robotics Team from Lenape and Cherokee High Schools in New Jersey.

 

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