Val Schmidt leads the marine robotics programme at the US Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping, where he and a team of engineers and graduate students solve problems to “make autonomy practical”. Schmidt holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics with Honours from the University of the South (Sewanee, TN, 1994) and a Master of Science in Ocean Engineering, with an emphasis on Ocean Mapping, from the University of New Hampshire’s Category A Hydrographic programme (Durham, NH, 2008). Schmidt and his team at CCOM have been deploying uncrewed vehicles from shore and ships at sea since 2008, for marine science and seafloor mapping missions around the world. These include recent missions with ASVs from NOAA Ship Fairweather (2018), Exploration Vessel Nautilus (2017, 2018, 2021, 2022 x 3), NOAA Ship Shearwater (2017) and NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson (2019 and 2022).