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James Bellingham

Exploration Robotics

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering
Applied Physics Laboratory

Bellingham is a pioneer in the development of small, high performance autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) who has led research expeditions across the globe, including the Antarctic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, South Pacific, and Arctic oceans. His AUVs are widely used within the military, industry, and scientific communities, for instance, for a variety of scientific investigations, inspection of underwater infrastructure, and seafloor mapping.

Much of Bellingham’s work on autonomous systems in the underwater environment has prioritized high-level control, energy management, and vehicle integrity. His innovative work has been instrumental for ocean observing and has provided a new toolbox for exploring previously unexplored parts of the deep ocean. Bellingham has also developed robots to explore the transient part of the ocean—both the physical ocean with its variable temperature, salinity, and currents, and the microbial ocean. This line of research is crucial for understanding the impacts of climate change on the ocean and the planet. Bellingham is also interested in the ethical questions that autonomous systems bring about, advocating the importance of an ethical framework to enable rational decisions surrounding the creation and use of autonomy.

Bellingham joined Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2021 from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

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