Stephen Licht

Stephen Licht’s Full Research Profile


  • Ph.D. Oceanographic and Mechanical Engineering. MIT-WHOI Joint Program, 2008
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering. Yale University, 1998

Research Themes

Research Interests

  • Marine Robotics
  • Biologically Inspired Propulsion
  • Nonlinear Attitude Control
  • Compliant Underwater Manipulation
  • Underwater Vehicles
  • Unmanned Aerial Monitoring of Coastal Structures

Major Sources of Funding

  • National Science Foundation
  • U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command/Naval Engineering Education Consortium
  • RI Department of Transportation
  • RI Science and Technology Advisor Council
  • National Oceanic and

    Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Dr. Licht is the director of the Robotics Laboratory for Complex Underwater Environments (R-CUE) at the University of Rhode Island.  Our goal is to develop maritime robots with the ability to operate in dynamic and unpredictable environments. To this end, we investigate biologically inspired propulsion as a means of providing high authority/high bandwidth thrust; distributed pressure sensing for detection of flow structures and obstacles; model based optimal control and trajectory generation strategies for maneuvering in dynamic conditions; and compliant underwater manipulation and intervention technologies.

Dr. Licht received his Ph.D. in Oceanographic and Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from the MIT/WHOI Joint program, where he created ‘Finnegan the RoboTurtle’. Prior to joining the URI faculty, he was a Senior Research Scientist with the Maritime Research group at iRobot, and Senior Robotics Engineer with Vecna Robotics. During his time in the robotics industry, Dr. Licht designed, simulated, and field tested model-based control systems for underwater vehicles and ground robots driven by bladders, fins, flippers, propellers, legs, wheels, and tracks.