This research will develop an autonomous system for remote sampling of biological and geological specimens from the sea floor using a robotic manipulator mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Visual sensing from a stereoscopic camera system called AVATAR will be integrated with the control system for the SAMURAI underwater manipulator to produce a robust autonomous sampling system. In addition, a front-end graphical user command interface will be integrated to the system to allow real-time designation of targets for autonomous sampling or other dexterous manipulation from remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and manned submersibles.
The utility of this advanced autonomous sampling system will be demonstrated by teaming with investigators at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution by conducting operational sampling tasks of specimens in sea trials off the coast of Cape Cod and on an Atlantic scientific cruise. The SAMURAI/AVATAR system will provide marine scientists with the capability of autonomous or teleoperated interventional tasks from any hovering undersea vehicle.
An AUV Manipulator/Vision System for Autonomous Interventions is a three-year, $481K grant.