Aviation Data Science Seminar Speakers and Video Recordings

March 11, 2020: The seminar has been CANCELLED due to ongoing concerns presented by the COVID-19 virus across the UC Berkeley and NASA Ames campuses. UC Berkeley is suspending in-person classes, as a result seminar will be rescheduled at a later time.


Peter Shannon – TBD

Radius Capital, Managing Director 



Topic: Advanced Aerial Mobility – Technological Drivers, Impacts, and Observations



Technologies such as electric propulsion, composites manufacturing, and increasing autonomy are redefining flight.  This is creating a renaissance in aviation.  The fundamentally new capabilities in safe, simplified, low-cost, quiet, and vertical flight promise to vastly expand the use cases for flight to drive productivity across the economy, whether moving goods, moving people, or automating tasks.  


We will look at the drivers of this transformation, its historical context, and survey the broad implications it brings for the future.  We will also address the opportunities this is creating today and entrepreneurial approaches to pushing toward realizing this vision.



Peter is an investor focused on advanced aerial mobility and its application toward positive impact for transportation across the economy.  


Peter is active in the aviation community around regulatory and technology issues critical to enabling high-scale adoption of aerial mobility systems. Peter helped create a national vision and roadmap for Urban Air Mobility as a member of the Committee on Urban Air Mobility Research and Technology through the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.  Peter is also an appointee to NASA’s Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable.  Peter is involved in the FAA’s Unmanned Aerial System Integration Pilot Program and sits on committees developing standards for unmanned air traffic management, vehicle certification, and urban air mobility.


Earlier, Peter was at Firelake Capital and Atlas Venture, investing in transportation and sustainability technologies.    


Peter's entrepreneurial experience began while an undergraduate, when he co-founded Eye Response, Inc., a company that pioneered computer eye-tracking systems.  


Peter holds an MBA, with High Honors, from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BS in Systems Engineering, with distinction, from the University of Virginia.  Peter started flying when he was 19 and actively maintains a Private Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating.


Mark W. Mueller, Ph.D. – March 11th, 2020 

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley 



Topic: Designing aerial robots (and aerial taxis)



Flying robots, such as multi-copters, are increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives, with current and future applications including personal transportation, delivery services, entertainment, and aerial sensing. These systems are expected to be safe and to have a high degree of autonomy. This talk will discuss the dynamics and control of multi-copters, with a focus on making these vehicles more robust to external disturbances, and component failures. We will discuss specific research results relating to increasing efficiency of the systems and overcoming range limitations, as well as design decisions that allow for greater robustness and safety in the face of component failures. 



Mark W. Mueller is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, whose research focuses on the design and control of aerial robots. He joined the mechanical engineering department at UC Berkeley in September 2016. He completed his PhD studies at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland in 2015, and received an MSc there in 2011. He received a Bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.


Ella Atkins, Ph.D. – March 4th, 2020 

Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Associate Director of Graduate Programs for the Robotics Institute University of University of Michigan



Topic: Autonomy and Safety for Urban Air Mobility (UAM)



Urban Air Mobility (UAM) can only be achieved at scale when emerging eVTOL operations are safe despite reduced pilot training requirements. Increased autonomy and access to new data pipelines are viewed as foundations to enable safe UAM operations. Traditional sensor data can be augmented with new cloud resources such as roadmaps and geographical information system (GIS) Lidar/video to offer emerging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and UAM operations a new level of situational awareness. This presentation will introduce challenges in UAM and summarize my group's research to identify, process, and utilize new data sources during nominal and emergency flight planning. Specific efforts have utilized machine learning to automatically map urban emergency landing sites, trade in-flight and landing site risks as needed, and incorporate cell phone data into an occupancy map. Research in flight safety assessment and management (FSAM) will be summarized; this work offers potential for improved resilience and increased verification for autonomous aircraft flight management. The presentation will end with videos illustrating recent small UAS flight testing in the University of Michigan's new M-Air netted flight facility.  



Ella Atkins is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Autonomous Aerospace Systems Lab and is Associate Director of Graduate Programs for the Robotics Institute. Dr. Atkins holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. She is Editor-in-Chief of the AIAA Journal of Information Systems (JAIS) and has served on the National Academy's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Institute for Defense Analysis Defense Science Studies Group, and multiple National Academy study committees. She pursues research in Aerospace system autonomy and safety.


Seminar Recording: 




Banavar Sridhar, Ph.D. – February 26th, 2020 

Principal Scientist, USRA, NASA Ames Research Center



Topic: Application of Machine Learning Techniques to Aviation Operations: NASA Case Studies



There is an increasing interest in applying methods based on Machine Learning Techniques (MLT) to problems in aviation operations. The current interest is based on developments in Cloud Computing, the availability of open software and the success of MLT in automation, consumer behavior and finance involving large database. Historically aviation operations have been analyzed using physics-based models and provide information for making operational decisions. This talk describes issues to be addressed in applying either model-driven or data driven methods. Aviation operations involving many decision makers, multiple objectives, poor or unavailable physics-based models and  a rich historical database are prime candidates for analysis using data-driven methods. The issues relating to data, feature selection and validation of the models are illustrated by examining case studies of the application of MLT to problems in air traffic management at NASA. Further research is needed in the application of MLT to critical aviation operations. As always, the best approach depends on the task, the physical understanding of the problem and the quality and quantity of the available data.



Dr. Banavar Sridhar is Principal Engineer, University Space Research Association (USRA) at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. He was formerly NASA Senior Scientist for Air Transportation Systems. His research interests are in the application of modeling and optimization techniques to aerospace systems. Dr. Sridhar received the 2004 IEEE Control System Technology Award for his contributions to the development of modeling and simulation techniques. He led the development of traffic flow management software, Future ATM Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET), which received the NASA Software of the Year Award in 2006 and the FAA Excellence in Aviation Research in 2010.  Dr. Sridhar has served on the  Editorial Board of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) Journal Control Engineering Practice, International Journal of Machine Vision and Applications, IEEE Control Systems Magazine, IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Journal of Robotics Systems Special Issue on Passive Ranging and IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation Special Issue on Perception-Based Real-World Navigation. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AIAA.


Seminar Recording: 


Parimal Kopardekar, Ph.D. – February 19th, 2020 

Director, NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI)

NASA’s Ames Research Center



Topic: Key Opportunities in Aeronautics Enterprise



Aviation is growing and many new entrants are emerging. They include drones, urban air mobility vehicles, commercial space crafts, and high altitude platforms. Current airspace operations and air traffic management will have to evolve to accommodate them. At the same time, improvements in the current manned air traffic management operations are desired to reduce delays and increase capacity. The talk addresses how we can enable the future, while maintaining the safety operations that we enjoy. It will specifically discuss the needs for airspace access, scalability, safety, and efficiency of all airspace users. The talk begins with an anecdote on how the speaker got involved in air traffic management research and development, and ends with a discussion of why is it an exciting area for a new career. 



Dr. Parimal Kopardekar (PK) serves as the Director of NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). In that capacity, he is responsible for exploring new trends and needs related to aeronautics.  He also serves as principal investigator for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM).  For UTM, he and the team won the Service to America Medals (known as Oscars of Federal Workforce) in Promising Innovation Category in 2018. He was named as one of the top 25 most influential people in commercial UAS industry in 2017.  He also won NASA exceptional technology medal in 2016. He is a co-author of over 50 publications with 3 best paper awards. He is passionate about airspace operations, autonomy, advanced air mobility, and digital manufacturing and supply chains in aeronautics.  He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Aerospace Operations and a fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


Seminar Recording: 


Marta Gonzalez, Ph.D. - February 12th, 2020

Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning, UC Berkeley


Topic: Urban Computing for Planning Energy Efficient and Healthier Cities



Dr. Gonzalez uses data science to characterize how humans interact with the built and the natural environment seeking to plan for more sustainable and livable cities.  Given the increasing ubiquity of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the Bay Area, she presents a study that aims to assist in planning decisions by providing timing recommendations and assigning monetary values to modulations of PEV start and end charging times.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the number of PEVs in the United States doubled between 2013 and 2015 and are expected to reach 20 million by 2020.


In the second part, Dr. Gonzalez presents DeepAir, a convolutional neural network platform that combines satellite imagery and urban maps with weather and air monitoring stations datasets. The goal is to enable science-informed policy by understanding various inter-dependencies in the quality of the air, we breathe. These methodologies are aimed to be fully scalable and open source. The presented methods can be extended to other domains that involve human and environmental interactions.

Marta Gonzalez, Ph.D. is an associate professor at UC Berkeley with appointments both in Civil and Environmental Engineering and  City and Regional Planning. She is also a Research Scientist in the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division of the LBNL. Marta’s research analyzes and combines spatial data on various complex systems, with applications to transportation networks, energy efficiency planning, and characterization of disease proliferation. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Marta worked as an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT.


Seminar Recording: 

Jeremy Coupe, Ph.D. - February 5th, 2020 

Aerospace Engineer, NASA Ames Research Center


Topic: Predicting Gate Conflicts Using NASA ATD2 Fused Data Sources 



The modern day National Airspace System (NAS) is powered by System Wide Information Management (SWIM) which is a real-time digital data sharing infrastructure that provides a high fidelity view of the lifecycle of a flight. The newly available data within the SWIM feeds can be leveraged to help drive efficiencies in the NAS. In this talk, we investigate the gate conflict prediction problem as a concrete use case which could help drive efficiencies. We begin with a high level description of NASA's Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 which is built upon the real-time SWIM feeds and produces the data used in our investigation. We model gate conflicts as a regression problem and describe the iterative process of model building, model validation, and evaluation used to assess the efficacy of our approach. We quantify our predictive accuracy and identify paths for improvement. Through this iterative process we hope to evolve our models and methods in the development of a near real-time prediction service.



Jeremy Coupe is an Aerospace Engineer at NASA Ames Research Center and the analytics lead for NASA's Airspace Technology Demonstration 2. He received his BS degree in Mathematics from the University of San Francisco and both MS degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Ph.D. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he was a member of the Robotics and Control Lab.


Seminar Recording:


Sudip Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D. - January 29th, 2020 

Technologist, Business Finland 


Sudip Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D. will discuss the drone application development, starting in 2007, of a select few customized end users applications. He will discuss lessons learned and innovative developments, which will augment the steps needed to make urban air mobility successful in the coming years. He will also describe the relevance and role of aerospace corporations versus today’s car manufacturers, and what we need to do to develop a new and successful alternative transportation ecosystem.



Dr. Mukhopadhyay currently works for Business Finland, the innovation instrument, helping the country with incubation, innovation, and investment strategy, and nurturing hundreds of government funded startups in Finland. Areas of focus are full autonomy, future mobility, new space, and circular economy. Sudip worked at Honeywell for 16 years as a corporate fellow and Director of innovation for Aerospace, bringing over $7B new products revenue through his own research. Sudip co-founded the Honeywell drone startup and wrote the Urban Air Mobility strategy for Honeywell Corporate.  Sudip is trained as an engineer in India, Israel, and UC Berkeley. Sudip lives in Berkeley with his wife, a biophysicist, and their daughter. 


Seminar Recording:

Recording not available

Raja Sengupta, Ph.D. - January 22nd, 2020  

Professor, Civil Engineering, UC Berkeley


Raja Sengupta, Ph.D. is Professor in the Systems Engineering Program, Civil Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. He holds a PhD in EECS from the University of Michigan. His research has spanned automated cars, drones, connected cars, smartphone apps for economics & transportation, wireless networking, and control theory. He likes to do research with industry and get it into the marketplace. He holds car-to-road networking patents with Toyota, a UAV patent with BAE Aerospace, and has car-to-car networking contributions standardized by the SAE into J2945. He created technology for the successful start-up automatic.com and is now the founder and CEO of responsiblerobotics.com. He has been an advisor to the World Bank, a recipient of U.S. DoT Connected Vehicle Technology award in 2011, UC Berkeley's Energy and Climate Lectures Innovation Award in 2014, and has authored over a hundred papers spanning control theory, networking, drones, and transportation. 


Seminar Recording:


The Aviation Data Science Seminar Series is a collaboration between USRA, NASA, and the University of California, Berkeley. For more information on the Aviation Data Science Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, please visit our web site at http://nams.usra.edu/nams-labs/aviation-data-science-lab-dsl.




Upcoming Event: Aviation Data Science Short Course

This course teaches you fundamentals of reproducible data science and analytics, probabilistic reasoning & statistical inference, and machine learning to leverage data generated within the large scope of aviation and aeronautics.

Upcoming Event: Aviation Data Science Seminar and Video

As the number of air vehicles grows exponentially with unmanned aerial systems and the amount of data grows exponentially in civil aviation, the future holds more promise for a greater impact from advanced tools and techniques in data science and AI. This Spring, learn from experts in government, industry, and academia in a 12-seminar series, sponsored by USRA and UC Berkeley with NASA Ames Research Center. 

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USRA-NAMS Staff Receive Ames Contractor Council Award

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Dr. David Bell: A Keynote Speaker at the Quantum Summit

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