auvsi, new river valley, Virginia, unmanned systems, drones

AUVSI Ridge & Valley Stays at the Forefront of Unmanned Systems

Blacksburg, VA – Unmanned system technologies are rapidly maturing into indispensable tools for civil service, commerce, science, and security. These tools are increasingly connected to one another, and to the human workers they support, creating partnerships that offer fantastic new opportunities — and new technical challenges. Other sorts of partnerships have emerged to address these challenges and opportunities – from industry/government/academic consortia to externally funded entrepreneurial ventures. Come meet with us this Fall in the beautiful New River Valley as we discuss the latest advances in unmanned systems.

Tuesday Morning Keynote: Ryan Eustice, PhD, Senior Vice President of Automated Driving, Toyota Research Institute (TRI)

In addition to his role as VP of Automated Driving at TRI, Dr. Eustice serves on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s “Council on Future Mobility,” a state government regulatory policy advisory board, and he directs the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PeRL) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Eustice received a Ph.D. from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Ocean Engineering in 2005 and was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Best known for his work in advancing large-scale simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), including the visual mapping of the RMS Titanic, Dr. Eustice is a past recipient of the prestigious NSF CAREER and ONR Young Investigator awards.

Tuesday Noon Spotlight: Catherine McGhee, PE, Director of Research and Innovation, VA Transportation Research Council

Cathy McGhee has been with the Virginia Transportation Research Council since 1993, where she has led VDOT’s research program on connected and automated vehicles and has worked with VDOT staff and university partners to develop, test, and deploy equipment and applications within the Virginia Connected and Automated Corridors to advance VDOT’s mission of delivering safe and efficient mobility. As a part of this effort, she has participated in the Virginia Secretary of Transportation’s Automated Vehicle Work Group and the Unmanned Aerial Systems Work Group. VDOT has supported a strong innovative research program for more than 65 years. Its Virginia Transportation Research Council continues to build on this strong tradition by increasing emphasis on implementation of research findings.

Wednesday Morning Keynote: Bala Ganesh, PhD, Vice President, Advanced Technology Group, UPS

Bala Ganesh leads the Advanced Technology Group at UPS, overseeing efforts to apply cutting edge technologies to create UPS’ Smart Logistics Network. Ganesh previously directed marketing strategy for UPS’s retail and consumer goods segment. He joined UPS in 2012 as product manager supporting UPS My Choice and social media/mobile integration within the company’s Customer Technology Management group. Prior to joining UPS, Ganesh was responsible for strategy development and mergers and acquisitions with the healthcare procurement company, MedAssets. From 2006 to 2010, he led consulting project teams for McKinsey & Co. Ganesh has also worked as a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA. Early in his career, Bala was a pilot in the Indian Air Force.

Wednesday Noon Spotlight: Brad Whitby, Managing Director, Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Brad Whitby serves as the Managing Director of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS), the only National Science Foundation-sponsored research center focused on unmanned aircraft. The C-UAS is an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center whose academic institutions include BYU, University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Michigan. Texas A&M and Penn State are expected to join the Center in the coming year. The C-UAS has over 25 industry and government members who select and support dozens of university-led UAS research projects each year.



Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

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