Cooperative Underwater Robots

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The application of autonomous mobile networks of robots and sensors to the underwater domain has great potential for monitoring the health of river and marine environments.

The goal of this project is to develop a system of cooperative underwater robots and sensors that are networked together for versatile cooperative tasks such as deployment, node localization, network placement and maintenance of desired network properties, leading to self-organized underwater systems. Our research thrust has three lines of investigation:

  • developing experimental devices in support of cooperative networked underwater tasks (including our robot Amour and our underwater Sensor node Aquafleck)
  • developing localization, mapping, control and planning algorithms for coupled cooperative underwater systems and for networked underwater systems
  • implementing the proposed algorithms and deploying them in ocean environments

Cooperation is an important aspect of designing useful underwater robots. Long-range and long-time underwater operations requires power and thus a large robot. Once at the destination the large size may not be advantageous if the robot has to perform many maneuvers: the bigger the robot, the larger the power consumed. Furthermore, the maneuverability of large robots is lower than that of small robots. When the tasks at the robot destination involve intricate trajectories or traversal of narrow tunnels (for example for purposes such as monitoring, exploration, shipwreck inspection, imaging, or data muling from an already deployed sensor network) a smaller robot is more useful. We would like to develop robot systems that meet both needs: they can do long-range travel and they are maneuverable once they arrive at the destination and propose cooperation as a means for accomplishing this.

We are collaborating on this project with Peter Corke (CSIRO) and John Leonard (MIT).

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