Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Underwater robots work together without human input

03.08.2006
May be first robot team to self-choreograph movements

This August in Monterey Bay, Calif., an entire fleet of undersea robots will for the first time work together without the aid of humans to make detailed and efficient observations of the ocean.

The oceanographic test bed in Monterey is expected to yield rich information in particular about a periodic upwelling of cold water that occurs at this time of year near Point Año Nuevo, northwest of Monterey Bay.

But the project has potentially larger implications. It may lead to the development of robot fleets that forecast ocean conditions and better protect endangered marine animals, track oil spills, and guide military operations at sea. Moreover, the mathematical system that allows the undersea robots to self-choreograph their movements in response to their environment might one day power other robotic teams that -- without human supervision -- could explore not just oceans, but deserts, rain forests and even other planets.

In addition, the ability to coordinate autonomous vehicles -- a challenge inspired by the grace of bird flocks and fish schools -- may give biologists greater insight into the highly efficient behaviors of animals.

The August field experiment is the centerpiece of a three-year program known as Adaptive Sampling and Prediction (ASAP), which is funded by the Office of Naval Research. The two co-leaders of ASAP are Naomi Ehrich Leonard of Princeton University and Steven Ramp of the Naval Postgraduate School.

The multidisciplinary team of ASAP investigators – who come together from more than a dozen prestigious research institutions -- consists of physical oceanographers, marine biologists and researchers in control and dynamics.

During the experiment, the ASAP system will determine what paths the underwater robots should follow to take the most information-rich samples, or measurements, of ocean activity. As the ocean changes, automated computer programs will update the sampling strategy under the supervision of the ASAP team. Most of the scientists will not be on site during the actual field experiment. The team will collaborate while the experiment is ongoing through a virtual control room, something like a chat room for the ASAP scientists. The researchers will gather online in the virtual control room to share observations and make important decisions about necessary changes to the field operation as it is under way.

The underwater robots, known as gliders, will take the ocean's temperature, measure its salinity (salt content), estimate the currents and track the upwelling. Two types of gliders will be deployed -- Spray gliders and Slocum gliders. The Slocum gliders belong to David Fratantoni of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; the Spray gliders to Russ Davis of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The numerical ocean modeling will be performed independently by Pierre Lermusiaux of Harvard, Yi Chao of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Igor Shulman of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and Sharan Majumdar of the University of Miami. Using powerful supercomputers, the oceanographic modelers collect and evaluate all of the ocean measurements to predict future ocean conditions.

In contrast to typical ocean-observing systems, which are static, the mobility of the gliders allows them to capture the dynamic nature of the ocean, which is always shifting in time and space. Furthermore, the gliders will be coordinated onto patterns to ensure that as they move, the measurements they take are as information-rich as possible.

Inspired by the behavior of schools of fish, Naomi Ehrich Leonard's group at Princeton has created algorithms that allow the gliders to self-choreograph their movements in a series of rectangular patterns. The patterns span a large volume that the scientists have mapped in Monterey Bay (imagine a giant aquarium with porous walls that is 20 kilometers wide, 40 kilometers long, and roughly 400 meters deep).

On a day-to-day basis the control algorithms allow the gliders to make decisions independently about how to alter their course -- without any input from humans. This day-to-day autonomy enables the gliders to move according to the organized patterns, even as they are buffeted by strong currents.

As the ocean changes and new features are detected in the measurements and the forecasts, the ASAP team will reorganize the patterns to help guide the gliders toward ocean features of interest such as eddies and thermal fronts. This process, called "adaptive sampling," is expected to dramatically improve our knowledge of the ocean and our ability to predict its chaotic behavior.

In addition to gliders, the ASAP ocean-observing network also includes research ships, surveillance aircraft, propeller-driven vehicles, fixed buoy sensors and coastal radar mapping. The ASAP field operation is one of four marine research initiatives taking place during the summer in Monterey Bay. Collectively known as MB 2006, these four programs are hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, Calif. MBARI will host a media day Aug. 23 featuring scientists showcasing the results of these projects.

Teresa Riordan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.princeton.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>