Prof David Michael Lane


Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering, +44 (0)774 064 4094

Ocean Systems Laboratory Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

David Lane graduated in 1980 with a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and again in 1986 with a PhD in Underwater Robotics. In 1979 he worked offshore in the North Sea as diver/maintainer for British Oceanics Ltd, and from 1980-82 as a Development Engineer at Ferranti Ltd. From 1982 he held a series of research and academic appointments, culminating in a Professorial Chair at Heriot-Watt University in 1998, and visiting Professorships at Florida Atlantic University in 1999 and Edinburgh University from 2006. In 1995 he took up Directorship of the University’s Ocean Systems Laboratory and lead it’s development to a staff of 30 with £10M total funding from the UK Research Councils, Ministry of Defence, European Union and US Office of Naval Research. In 2001 he founded SeeByte Ltd ( and as CEO until 2010 lead the company’s organic evolution from startup to a multi-million dollar organization, growing at an average 45% pa during the recession, continually cash positive, with 75% of its business in exports to three continents and offices in Edinburgh, San Diego and Seattle. Under his leadership SeeByte won their first $8-figure export contract (US Navy) in 2009 and in 2010 an $8-figure new autonomous vehicle development for the offshore oil industry, in partnership with Subsea 7.

In 2007 he became President of SeeByte Inc. In 1995 he was H.Burr Steinbach Visiting Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and in 2007 was Scientific Advisor to the NATO Undersea Research Centre, La Spezia, Italy. He has been elected to Fellowships of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Geographical Society, the Institution ofEngineering and Technology, the Society for Underwater Technology and the Court of Heriot-Watt University.

In 2011 he was recipient of the Praxis Unico Impact Award under the Achieved Impact category for SeeByte. He regularly accepts invitations to present, most recently at IEEE ICAR (Tallinn), IROS (San Francisco) and the Acoustical Society of America (San Diego) events in 2011 and plenaries at IEEE AUV 2012 and US Office of Naval Research Breaking the Surface 2012, Zagreb, Croatia. In Since 2012 he co-ordinates the FP7 Challenge 2 project PANDORA and chairs the BIS/TSB Robotics and Autonomous Systems Special interest Group (RAS-SIG) reporting to Rt. Hon David Willets Minister for Universities and Science (one of the 8 Great Technologies underpinning UK Govt industrial strategy). Since 2013 he is a Director of the euRobotics aisbl not-for-profit that shapes Horizon2020 Robotics PPP between research and industry.

Research Interests:

Autonomy: Engineering of advanced cognition into unmanned and autonomous systems – control, navigation, signal processing, planning, world modelling, learning, operator dialog, architecture. (e.g. autonomous underwater vehicles for oil and gas intervention, under-ice survey)

Analytics: Predictive fault detection and diagnosis for condition based maintenance and through lifesupport of remote assets (e.g. offshore wind farms, railways, subsea oil and gas infrastructure).

Biomimesis: Bio-inspired sensing and locomotion (e.g. dolphin inspired underwater sonar, turtle magnetic navigation, seal vibrissae (whiskers) sensing, fish propulsion and energy harvesting)

Last modified: 

19/12/2013 - 22:54