September 26th, 2008

Robots: Swarming Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

In this show we dive into the world of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) with an emphasis on the challenges when having to localize and communicate in the deep blue. While Navinda Kottege at the Australian National University has been looking at how swarms of small Serafina AUVs can determine their range, bearing and posture with respect to neighboring robots, Marc Sherman from Teledyne RD Instruments tells us how his Doppler Velocity Log systems are used to provide positioning for slightly larger beasts.

For a more futuristic view on underwater swarms, we present the first episode of our Science Fiction Special written by Jack Graham in Cambridge, MA. The “Selkies” will be following us over the next four episodes so don’t miss today’s debut.

Finally, if you’re curious about last week’s Uncertain Roomba Competition, check our forum for the winner and the actual solution.

Navinda Kottege

Navinda Kottege is a research assistant at the Australian National University, and has spent the last few years working on an underwater localisation system for swarms of AUVs, in particular the Serafina Robot.


Navigating and communicating with neighbors underwater is a difficult task (unless you’re a fish), since there is no GPS, radio communication is very limited, and vision is essentially useless. Kottege explains the challenges they had to overcome to build swarms of Serafina robots, and some of the possible applications of their swarm once they’re roaming our oceans.

Also, don’t miss a past interview on Talking Robots with Uwe Zimmer who is at the head of the Serafina project.

Marc Sherman

Marc Sherman is the sales manager for navigation products at Teledyne RD Instruments, a big league supplier of Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), Waves Measurement Products, Doppler Velocity Logs (DVLs), and Flow Measurement Products for offshore vehicles. He presents the DVLs used for underwater localization of anything from divers to ships, with an emphasis on the smaller Explorer system. While not yet small enough to suit Kottege’s Sarafina AUVs, there is a clear interest to scale down, for shallow water applications in security and defense.

Selkies

Our special guest, science fiction writer Jack Graham in Cambridge MA, tells us about the “Selkies”, seal-like robots which in a world of waste, strive to clean up the oceans. With a unique view on robotics and the world, he’s been writing away on lonesomerobot.com with stories such as “arm” and “posthuman playground“. The future will tell, how SciFi will continue to nourish engineers and vice-versa.

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