Back to "Schools" - A Future Path for Ocean Engineering

Friday, April 21, 2017 - 2:30pm
Pasta Pelican Restaurant, Alameda, CA
Tom Zambrano

Senior Scientist & Technology Director

APIUM Swarm Robotics


E-201 Ocean Engineering Seminar Series, Spring 2017


Attendees and enrollees of the regular E201 Friday seminars are advised that the April 21, 2017 seminar has been re-arranged as the following NorCal SNAME Evening Event at Pasta Pelican in Alameda on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. To attend, you are required to RSVP by Monday, April 24, 2017, using the RSVP link HERE. Attendance without having dinner is possible if you indicate "presentation only" in the RSVP link and email Ernie Chang ( of your wish. The charge for dinner is heavily discounted for students.


Swarming is how a simple fish or bee that possess very limited innate resources can reach destinations it never could on its own. While the movement of individuals within a swarm may look very chaotic to us, they never collide. Also, viewed as a whole, the collective motion of the swarm is incredibly fluid and seemingly unlimited in size and number.  


A few years ago APIUM was formed to put into design some theories we had in the realm of swarm management and control.  Centering their attention on the surface of the ocean -- it being a practical location to test their ideas on vehicles they could readily design and build.


Mr. Zambrano is pleased to have this opportunity to share their technology journey, as they started with simple ocean surface drifters and remote control toy boats to their present endeavors with minion-like drive-and-dive water drones doing some pretty interesting swarming behaviors.  APIUM’s aim is to see the adoption of swarm robotics into the mainstream of ocean engineering in the not-to-distant future, providing solutions to oil spill pollution, coastal zone management, or for finding out something about the ocean we never knew about before.


We remind ourselves that what we aim to do with swarm robotics is what schools of fish achieve daily. It is not an impossible mission, we just don’t know how exactly to do it yet.


Tom Zambrano background is in environmental fluid dynamics, particularly the interactions of human activities, the environment and fluid motion. At APIUM, his responsibilities converge on initiating, developing and directing collaborative efforts in line with their strategic vision. Prior to joining APIUM, Tom was an energy and environmental technologies scientist at AeroVironment, Inc. for over 35 years. He ended my student days with a Dipl. Engr. from von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Belgium.


Over those years he has often sought the advice and expertise of members of NorCal SNAME on a myriad of design projects involving working at sea and in the laboratories at UC Berkeley's Richmond Field Station Model-Testing Facility. NorCal SNAME is honored to have him speak at this upcoming meeting and all look forward to seeing old friends and surely making new ones this coming Wednesday, April 26th.


Hosted by: NorCal SNAME, Dominique Roddier <>