There is one of multiple a research institutions working alongside an Applied Underwater Robotics lab (AUR-lab) for involvement in various projects linking to industries and to further the use and knowledge of AUVs and USVs. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology(NTNU) has their Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems(AMOS). NTNU-AMOS is a 10 year research program starting in 2013 to 2022 to address the challenges autonomous marine operations and systems. They currently have two research areas that their work can come under. One is unmanned vehicles and robots and the other is safer, smarter and greener marine operations. A link to their webpage on their project with autonomous underwater robotics is  here. I will outline a couple projects and research work relating to AUVs and USVs.

To begin with, the AUR-lab was created in 2009 and work in collaboration with other research groups. An recent example is the Blue Mining project which is a European project where they have so far been mapping deposits of extinct seafloor massive sulphides. While the details of mining is of less interest here the methodologies involved the use of an AUV that will identify areas that will be later studied in higher resolution by an ROV. This is an example of where these platforms are better suited to particular functions directly relational to the level of control or autonomy of the vehicle. The whole project can be followed through this link.

(BlueMining 2016)

Further challenges explored at NTNU-AMOS includes increasing the level of autonomy, multi-vehicle systems and path planning. The multi-vehicle projects have focussed on the communication between AUV and USV or UAV as an aide for navigation and guidance, and this integration of technologies. The research looked to find the effects of the roll and pitch of the UAV and the effects of motions on the AUV due to ocean waves as well as the communication quality. Communication architecture requires investigation as it can prove to have bottlenecks effecting the system efficiency and effective operation. Communication links in this project was through wifi modems. The network scheme is in the image below. Bottlenecks could be found through the capacity of the system.

(Johansen et al. 2014)

A project involving the tracking of an AUV by USV was done in a controlled location in a fjord which was done in collaboration with Maritime Robotics developing the USV in 2015. Acoustic information would be communicated from the AUV to the USV and a tracking algorithm would use this to predict the position of the AUV. The algorithm is based on constant bearing by intercepting a line of sight with a velocity vector. The AUV drifted from predicted positions and could surface to apply corrections. Operators can monitor the vehicles on shore leading to increased autonomy of systems.

Project papers:
T. A. Johansen, A. Zolich, T. Hansen and A. J. S⊘rensen, “Unmanned aerial vehicle as communication relay for autonomous underwater vehicle — Field tests,” 2014 IEEE Globecom Workshops (GC Wkshps), Austin, TX, 2014, pp. 1469-1474.

P. Norgren, M. Ludvigsen, T. Ingebretsen and V. E. Hovstein, “Tracking and remote monitoring of an autonomous underwater vehicle using an unmanned surface vehicle in the Trondheim fjord,” OCEANS 2015 – MTS/IEEE Washington, Washington, DC, 2015, pp. 1-6.

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