September 2023 OES Beacon

Who’s who in the IEEE OES (September 2023)

Toshihiro MAKI, The University of Tokyo and a newly elected AdCom member (from 2024-2026)

Figure 1. Autonomous Marine Platforms we have developed (Top-left: AUV MONACA, Middle-center: AUV Tri-Dog 1). Tri-Dog 1 was originally developed in Prof. Ura’s lab.

Hello, OES members.  I received my Ph.D from The University of Tokyo in 2008.  I am currently an associate professor of the Center for Integrated Underwater Observation Technology, Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo.  I served as secretary of OES Japan Chapter 2016-2021 and have been vice chair of OES Japan Chapter since 2022.  I have also been serving as associate editor of the Journal of Oceanic Engineering since 2013.  During this period, I served as Publications & Publicity Committee Co-Chair at OCEANS’18 MTS/IEEE Kobe / Techno-Ocean 2018.  I also served as a TPC Co-Chairs at AUV 2016, UT21 online, and International Symposium on Underwater Technology 2023 (UT23).   I was elected to the OES AdCom in 2023 for a term 2024 to 2027.

Figure 2. Debugging AUV Tri-Dog 1 at Kamaishi port in 2004. Left: Hayato KONDO (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology), Center: myself, Right: Bharath KALYAN (National University of Singapore)

My research field is underwater platform systems, especially autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and related technologies.  We have developed several ocean-going AUVs (see Fig. 1), and have extensive experience in sea trials in Kagoshima Bay, Okinawa Trough, Ishigaki Island, etc.  In 2015, while staying at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States, I boarded the icebreaker Sikuliaq on an observation cruise in the Arctic Ocean, gaining experience in operating AUVs under sea ice.  Since 2017, I have been leading the development of AUV MONACA for Antarctic sea ice and ice shelf exploration in collaboration with National Institute of Polar Research.  In 2023, our team succeeded in the first deployment of the AUV to Antarctica from the icebreaker Shirase.  Please visit website of my lab for more information (

When I entered the university, I wanted to become a pilot or engineer on aircraft or spacecraft.  I also belonged to the university soaring club.  The turning point was when I failed to enter the department of aeronautics because my grade wasn’t good enough.  So, I went to naval engineering department, where I met Prof. Tamaki Ura, OES fellow.  I was fascinated in underwater robotics, especially AUVs, as his lecture was very interesting.  So I proceeded to the graduate school to study about it under his supervision in 2003.

Figure 3. The ‘three brothers’ of Prof. Ura’s lab in 2007. Left: Takeshi NAKATANI (JAMSTEC), Center: myself, Right: Blair THORNTON (University of Southampton / The University of Tokyo)

I was very fortunate to have many opportunities for field experiments and presentations at academic conferences.  Actually, it was very tough to publish papers at the field of ‘experimental underwater robotics,’ as there are many things to do, such as design, development, and maintenance of robots, software development, debugging, theoretical study, offline simulations, experiment, post-processing, analysis, and writing.  However, I feel like all my hard work has paid off when our hard-earned robot moves exactly as I intended.  I still remember the excitement and a feeling of satisfaction when the AUV Tri-Dog 1, which I used as a testbed for master thesis research, first succeeded in wall following at a tank experiment.  At that time, I decided to do my best to become an AUV researcher.

Figure 4. Our group (Maki Lab. and Thornton Lab.), just after graduation ceremony in 2023.

I am also interested in outreach activities.  I have been organizing student underwater robot competitions as a director of the NPO ‘Japan Underwater Robot Network’ since 2013.  The last event was held in August 2022, and it was a great success with 20 teams and more than 160 participants, even though it was held online.  This year, we are preparing for a face-to-face event for the first time since 2019, expecting more than 20 teams from universities, high schools, and junior-high schools.

I have three boys.  The youngest one has just entered elementary school, so I have a busy life at home.  Watching children grow (and getting along with my wife) is another important mission of mine.  Here I write that the three boys are currently addicted to each, just for your reference.  Oldest: Minecraft, Middle: The Battle Cats, Youngest: Handcraft (see Fig. 6).


Figure 5. Myself, at a field experiment in 2022.
Figure 6. The latest work of my youngest son, as of 14 Aug. 2023.