At the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, Dan Stilwell of the College of Engineering works with teams of Virginia Tech students intent on mastering his specialty: maritime robotics. Ever-smarter underwater robots are needed for inspection, search and rescue.

"We spend a lot of time looking for things underwater, and those range from airplane parts, sadly, to military things like mines," Stilwell says. Undersea robots are more valuable if they "can make their own decisions and operate productively both with humans but also completely without human intervention."

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