Nirav Patel North America 2022

Dr. Nirav Nikunj Patel is a Senior Program Manager supporting the Space and Artificial Intelligence Portfolios with the Defense Innovation Unit in Silicon Valley, California. Nirav leads the efforts in adopting commercially-sourced satellite imagery and computer vision algorithms to support  domestic needs like disaster response & climate change, as well as national security needs such as  detecting anomalous and nefarious activities abroad. Specifically, Dr. Patel managed the project to build the first U.S. commercial synthetic aperture radar smallsats; capable of more frequent, all-weather imaging of the earth at significantly reduced cost. His reputation as a strong technical resource and collaborator among some of DIU’s strongest organizational partners like NASA and the United States Geological Survey is a testament to his ability to form cooperative partnerships to solve complex problems and improve DIU’s organization. For example, Nirav collaborated with multiple U.S. government and international agencies to create the “xView” series of international  challenges to enlist the global community of machine learning experts towards  tackling one of the Department of Defense’s hardest problems; detecting key objects in context in overhead imagery. xView has enabled thousands of developers to apply computer vision algorithms to things like identify property damage caused by natural disasters, as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through automated dark vessel detection. Dr. Patel is an Air Force veteran who has twice deployed overseas to provide combat and contingency support in the defense of the United States.  Dr. Patel is also affiliate faculty at the University of Florida focusing on curriculum development for the intersection of AI/ML and geospatial sciences.