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Collaborative Underwater Robots

Team Seawolf

2011-2012 MRSD Design Project


Our Project:

Our project is to demonstrate collaboration between multiple autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Our goal is to have two underwater vehicles collaboratively locate and move an object that is too large or too heavy for a single AUV to carry. To demonstrate this ability, we will have two robots autonomously locate and move a 10' long, 4" diameter PVC pipe within the Carnegie Mellon diving pool. We are currently working with our industry partner, Lockheed Martin, to develop the vehicles and algorithms necessary to perform this task.

Vehicle Concept:
The following image shows our initial concept for our collaborative underwater robots. The vehicle will move in the pool using thrusters made from modified bilge pumps. The vehicle's primary sensor will be a camera, but additional sensors such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and ultrasonic distance sensor will allow the robot to exhibit more intelligent behavior. 
The vehicles will communicate using a wireless router, which is housed in a buoy towed by each vehicle (not shown). 

 A more refined CAD  model is shown below. Note the yardstick in the first picture for a sense of scale. 

Vehicle Architecture:
The following diagram show interaction of components that make up each system.  To limit the complexity and cost of the robot, most of the processing will be done offboard using a laptop computer. The robot will collect data from a camera, as well as distance and orientation sensors. This data will be sent to the laptop computer using a wireless router. The laptop will then process this data and send high level commands back to the robot, which has a microprocessor on board. This microprocessor will interpret the high level commands sent by the laptop and send the appropriate low level commands to the motors and ballasts to carry out the task. 


Tubbot is our first semester deliverable. This boat-like robot will serve as a platform to test a number of systems that will later be implemented on an underwater robot. 
Its current capabilities include:

  •  Moving in a straight line using feedback from a gyro
  •  Turning in place
  •  Teleoperation using a laptop
  •  Colored object following
For more information, click on the 'Tubbot' link in the navigation bar.

Stay tuned for more information.