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Seabiscuit, Bath's 2009 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle - Benjamin Williamson

Thursday 22 October, 17:15 - 18:05, 3WN 3.7

Bath University Racing Submarine Team (BURST) presents its 2009 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV): the 'Seabiscuit'. Named after both the round, flat marine animal that its circular shell resembles and the champion racehorse, the vehicle combines vision, sonar and inertial navigation systems to autonomously map and survey underwater environments. A sleek hydrodynamic profile and a holonomic propulsion system afford great manoeuvrability while a hierarchical program structure allows for complex and adaptable mission planning.

The vehicle was successfully trialled at the DSTL and industry sponsored "Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge - Europe" in July 2009. This competition is designed to simulate some of the real life challenges facing AUVs and included tasks such as autonomous navigation, target recognition and tracking, underwater surveying and mapping, autonomous docking, etc. The vehicle achieved 1st place in the second division at the European competition by demonstrating its mechanical soundness and by successfully completing two of the challenges.

After the competition, 'Seabiscuit' was flown to the Pacific Coast of Canada to assist a grey whale research group working off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Here the focus shifted to autonomous mapping and surveying of near shore and coastal environments, with the priority being simultaneous localisation and mapping in the dynamic and often turbulent environment of the open ocean. After successful sea trials in a variety of conditions, work now shifts to the sensor fusion algorithms required for accurate underwater position estimation.