Sesh Commuri has been named Technical Director of the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, the University's robotics systems and intelligent machine research and industry collaboration that includes land-based, aerial and stationary robotics and advanced manufacturing systems.
Commuri will lead efforts that support the advanced autonomous systems and advanced manufacturing industries by focusing on the technical aspects of industry-university partnerships, federal grants and technology transfer and commercialization.
He has been an active researcher and educator in the area of robotics and systems engineering for more than 30 years. He is based in the College of Engineering where he is a professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering.
"Central to my role at NAASIC will be facilitating the collaboration between the Center, the University community and our stakeholders to advance this technology to benefit the local industry and the larger society," Commuri said. "Autonomous systems, as exemplified by unmanned aircrafts, driverless cars, robots in manufacturing and healthcare, are poised to become the leading edge technology in the immediate future. Already, there are more registered drone operators than licensed pilots in the United States. I look forward to identifying and addressing the technical challenges and transition this technology into everyday life."
Commuri will work alongside Warren Rapp, NAASIC's Director of Business Development, to identify and meet industry's technical needs. Commuri will help form multi-disciplinary faculty teams to address industry and federal needs, recruiting industry partners as needed to pursue major funded projects and economic development opportunities. He will also form partnerships with industry and other research institutions to advance research in the advanced manufacturing and robotics areas, and identify industry and research partnerships that will result in major federal grants and centers of excellence.
"NAASIC, with its unique combination of public-private partnership and the active involvement of our University research community, is poised to be the leader in the area of autonomous systems," he said. "I look forward to drawing on my industry and entrepreneurial experience to help local industry and startup companies and to position the University as an innovation hub in the area of autonomous systems. Ultimately, I'd like NAASIC to become a preeminent leader in autonomous systems and an innovation hub that can power the economic engine of the region and the state of Nevada."
In addition to his tech development duties at the robotics systems and intelligent machines center, Commuri will be active as a professor in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering in both teaching and research.
"The challenge of developing systems that are intelligent and tasking them to address social problems has always excited and motivated me," he said. "Whether the technology is used for improving the quality of roads that we build or to implement prosthetic devices that offer improved mobility and quality of life for our veterans with loss of lower limbs, the social benefits of the technology have always been the focal point on my research."
Commuri said NAASIC has already established itself as a leader in the area of unmanned autonomous systems, and that in conjunction with the designation of Nevada by the FAA as one of the test sites for UAS technology, this has helped NAASIC receive funding from NASA and other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation.
"My priority will be to build on this success by identifying areas and developing the infrastructure needed to deliver solutions based on autonomous systems technology, establishing partnerships with researchers across campus and in the local industry and obtaining research funding for NAASIC to become sustainable in the near future," he said.
Commuri comes to the University from the University of Oklahoma where he was a professor and member of the University Research Council as well as Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Texas, Arlington, has received more than $19 million in grant funding and has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles.
"Sesh Commuri brings with him enthusiasm, commitment and a rich background in robotics and systems engineering," Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering said. "I am confident that, along with the rest of the talented and dedicated staff, he will contribute significantly towards the advancement of NAASIC and the economic development of Nevada."
Commuri joins Rapp, Chief Engineer Richard Kelley and Technical Program Manager Susan Walsh at the robotics innovation center. Established with $3 million in funding from the Governor's Office of Economic Development, NAASIC is a collaboration led by higher education that involves EDAWN, the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the manufacturing industry and K-12 and higher education programs to enhance Nevada's workforce.