Ken Wahren 

Principal and founder of Autonomous Devices, Ken has spent over 10 years developing some of the world’s most advanced intelligent systems and field robots. In 2008 he was an integral part of the team that won the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Grand Challenge for autonomy, for which he developed two mini Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) types and an innovative optical and infrared payload. In 2010 he led feasibility work which established the principles of a highly innovative maritime UAV concept, leading to a multi-million pound Anglo-French Technology Demonstrator Programme. In 2013, he led a small team that produced a highly innovative energy harvesting Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) for the UK MoD and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, delivering a full scale demonstrator vehicle in just 11 weeks. He subsequently went on to lead his employer’s maritime programme, representing the company during the successful campaign for the Defence Growth Partnership’s Centre for Maritime Intelligent Systems. He has delivered numerous R&T projects for UK MoD, most recently working within the Autonomous Systems Underpinning Research (ASUR) programme, the Weapons Science and Technology Centre (WSTC) and the Maritime Collaborative Enterprise (MarCE). A mechanical engineer by training, Ken was shortlisted as a Young Professional Engineer of the Year by the Institute of Engineers Australia at an early stage of his career. He is currently completing his PhD with Imperial College, for which he has developed a novel software architecture for autonomous vehicles, having won an Industrial Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to fund his studies.

Ken founded Autonomous Devices in 2015 to focus on new applications and business models for modular robotic systems. The company has won multiple MoD contracts and attracted additional funding from Innovate UK. The first project delivered to the MoD was featured in the Centre for Defence Enterprise’s showcase event at DSEi 2015, and an ongoing project is developing a novel Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV).

Ken spends most of his spare time running after his small children, and explaining why the sun can move even though it has no legs.




Oliver Haanen

Oli joined Autonomous Devices as a roboticist in 2015, having completed a mechatronics degree (mechanical and electrical/electronic systems) at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Oli was a patent examiner at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand for a number of years, before the urge to build things and travel became too strong. Oli excels at electronic design, and implements the company’s IP strategy.

In his spare time, Oli makes ludicrous wagers with his mates, leading to general mayhem. He has also been known to drive into the Mexican wilderness in a two-wheel drive hire car to climb an active volcano to 5,000m, at 2am, in at most -15 deg C, by himself. Apparently, in New Zealand, this is considered normal behaviour.