Follow the latest news about the MORPH field experiments at Toulon IFREMER site...

Toulon'13 MORPH Field Trials Conclude

posted 26 Jul 2013, 06:49 by Jan Opderbecke   [ updated 26 Jul 2013, 06:57 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez ]

Five days of trials are nearing the end, and Ifremer is proud to have hosted this achievement. All six vehicles brought by the project partners have worked flawlessly; the teams have accomplished a huge amount of work to integrate these vehicles into one single Morph system.

All objectives at this stage of the project have been achieved, and a milestone has been set in underwater robotics, running a heterogeneous fleet of autonomous vehicles – from 35 to 300kg – in a formation based solely on acoustic network communication and range detection.

Thursday evening all team members have then shown their individual diving skills! Today a week of trials come to an end, five long and hot days, people will leave tired but satisfied, and the community of this project has grown even stronger together.

Dear friends, congratulations to all and come home safely!

Day 5: CPF with 2 ASCs and ROF with 2 AUVs Systematically Repeated

posted 26 Jul 2013, 05:40 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 26 Jul 2013, 09:49 by Joao Alves ]

During the morning of the last day, we were able to once again execute the CPF & ROF maneouver twice (with 2 MEDUSAS and  the SPARUS and GIRONA500 AUVs), first with a 2 sec. interrogation cycle for the acoustic communications and range measurement scheme, and then decreasing the time to 1 sec. In both cases, the maneouvers were  executed correctly. Decreasing the interrogation cycle to 1 sec. was very exciting, for it allowed for tighter multiple vehicle control using the acoustic network channel. 

Next, we demonstrated CPF + ROF with 2 MEDUSAS and the VORTEX AUV, as well as CPF with the SPARUS - CHARLIE and MEDUSA-CHARLIE ensembles, adjusting the control parameters.

The main conclusion of the experiments is that we successfully integrated all the hardware and software systems required to program and run CPF + ROF maneuvers with 2 ASCs and 2 AUVs. The efficacy of the systems developed was demonstrated during a large number of experiments at sea involving heterogeneous marine robots from different partners, connected via an acoustic network. The CPF + ROF control systems developed and fully tested are at the core of the so-called "Simplified Horizontal Survey Scenario" whereby two ASCs and two AUVS (the latter being guided by the first) cooperate to map the ocean floor. It is time now to start planning for the demonstration of a 'full' "Horizontal Survey Scenario" in the next sea trials. In this case, a fully submerged set of 4 vehicles will execute a combined CPF+ROF maneuver, together with one companion surface vehicle that will play the role of a tracker and navigation aid device. 

Day 4: CPF with 2 ASCs and ROF with 2 AUVs achieved

posted 25 Jul 2013, 10:31 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 26 Jul 2013, 06:28 ]


Day 4 was long and hard, but extremely productive. Today we have demonstrated Cooperative Path Following (CPF) of 2 Autonomous Surface Craft (ASCs) with heterogeneous vehicles provided by different institutions (we tested the  VORTEX-SPARUS and the Charlie-SPARUS ensembles).

After yesterday´s demonstration of a CPF + Range-Only Formation (ROF) control with 2 ASCs (Black and Yellow MEDUSAs) and 1 AUV (SPARUS) it took us almost a full day to reproduce this mission with a different AUV. 

First, we managed to do CPF+ROF with the MEDUSAs and the GIRONA500 at the surface but using the modems (that is, the latter vehicle acted as a proxy to an AUV). This was done in view of the challenges faced to make the acoustic modem network operate reliably in the presence of thruster noise.  It is at times like this that  one truly appreciates the fact that during the tests an "acoustic monitoring unit" developed by CMRE allows us to fully assess the "state of operationality" of the full network. This set-up, complemented with the facilities availbale at Ifremer for acoustic data acquisition and processing, are instrumental in  the process of changing acoustic modem configurations and /or improve their installation in the marine vehicles used in the project. After having increased the modem´s power 1 level up, we could reproduce a CPF+ROF mission with the GIRONA 500 diving at 2 meters depth. 

At the very end of the day we brought together 2 ASCs (2 MEDUSAs) and 2 AUVs (SPARUS and GIRONA500) and we demonstrated for the very first time CPF + ROF with them! This is truly a landmark in the project. Not only are the control systems working well, but also the plethora of systems required for mission programming and mission execution, as well as aerial and acoustic communications. 

Overall, the MORPH teams have done a great job, and we are happy that a 2 ASCs CPF + 2 AUVs ROF maneuver has been demonstrated for the very first time! This is one of the key building blocks towards the development of the MORPH supra-vehicle!

Now the time has come to go to the beach with our friends from IFREMER, swim a bit, and enjoy a late picnic there.

Let us MORPH together ;-)

Looking all around

posted 25 Jul 2013, 09:26 by Nuno Gracias   [ updated 25 Jul 2013, 09:39 ]

Preliminary tests have been successfully conducted with the new omnidirectional camera. This sensor comprises six independent cameras, and allows for a very wide field of view – a full hemisphere. The sensor will be used to track vehicles navigating in very close proximity, of less than 10 meters.

Yesterday and today we have acquired the first panoramic images of a vehicle navigating at close range. The accompanying image shows the SPARUS AUV both at the harbor, and in the salt water test pool. This raw image has not been corrected for distortion nor blended.  

Day 3: CPF of 2 ASCs and ROF of 1 AUV Achieved

posted 24 Jul 2013, 06:13 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 26 Jul 2013, 14:03 by Luis Sebastiao ]


During this morning, the first ROF maneuver involving vehicles from different providers have been successfully completed. During the experiment, the 2 MEDUSAS ASCs executed Cooperative Path Following and SPARUS AUV was diving and executing Range Only Formation Control with respect to the two surface crafts. This mission have been repeated twice with two different communications cycles, being successful in both cases.

During the afternoon, CPF among different vehicles partners has been successfully tested: CHARLIE ASC & MEDUSAS and VORTEX & MEDUSAS.

At this point, all the ROS modules needed to test the "Simplified Horizontal Survey Scenario" are available and have been tested in the available vehicles.

The plan for tomorrow is to address the CPF of 2 ASCs and ROF with 2 AUVs.

Looking at the underwater sound

posted 24 Jul 2013, 05:20 by Joao Alves   [ updated 24 Jul 2013, 05:41 ]


CMRE is providing an underwater networking solution that enables data exchange plus relative location of the underwater vehicles. Proximity to our consortium partners allows instant feedback and rapid release iterations and performance upgrades. This morning the Consortium achieved coordination between 3 vehicles supported by CMRE solutions. On-line monitoring and support is provided with real-time acoustic spectrum analysis and live message decoding (screenshot on the left), using a deployed hydrophone and passive acoustic modem in the operational area. So far so good !

Day 2: Cooperative Path Following of 2 Surface Vehicles Achieved

posted 24 Jul 2013, 01:08 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 24 Jul 2013, 01:11 ]


Day 2 was our first day of sea trials. The day started with a test of the range of our WiFi setups. A unique network including all the vehicles was proposed and implemented by CMRE and the vehicle’s providers. Several adjustments were needed in order to achieve the desired coverage of the WiFi. During this day, CNRS arrived at site and started the installation of Charlie ASC. Moreover, their software engineers interacted with the rest of software engineers, achieving the integration of Charlie control architecture with the UWSim demonstrating the Cooperative Path Following of a virtual Charlie ASC and a virtual GIRONA500 AUV in HIL simulation. 

Wet tests came later. VORTEX, GIRONA500, SPARUS and MEDUSAS were tested at sea individually. With the help of Evlologics,the thruster noise levels of the vehicles were measured to establish a safe regime of work to avoid major degradation of the modem’s performance.  Next, Cooperative Path Following of two surface vehicles using all the MORPH ROS software packages was demonstrated using the 2 MEDUSAS vehicles. And a first trial of CPF & ROF, involving 2 MEDUSAS and SPARUS was attempted. The day come to the end without time enough to succeed on the CPF & ROF. 

The goal fixed for day 3 includes continuing with the CPF & ROF from the current point of development,  as well as to target the CPF of 2 vehicles from different partners.

Day 1: HIL Simulation of CPF and ROF Achieved.

posted 24 Jul 2013, 00:23 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 24 Jul 2013, 00:51 ]

Day 1 was a day of installing the network of computers and the vehicles. We are located in an IFREMER pavilion close to the harbour were operations will happen. The day was mostly devoted to software integration among partners as well as to test the acoustic modems of the vehicles with the help of an Evologics representative. The main achievements of day 1 included:
  • All the partner vehicles include the related MORPH ROS packages.
  • GIRONA500, SPARUS, MEDUSAS and VORTEX have been interfaced with UWSim for Hardware in the Loop Simulation (HIL).
  • Single partner Cooperative Path Following was tested on IST (MEDUSAS & MEDUSAS) and UdG (GIRONA and SPARUS) vehicles in HIL Simulation.
  • Multi-partner Cooperative Path Following was tested among IST & UdG vehicles and among IFREMER & UdG Vehicles in HIL simulation.
  • Cooperative Path Following and Range Only Formation (CPF & ROF) control was demonstrated in HIL within UWSim.
  • MEDUSAS, GIRONA500, SPARUS and VORTEX installation & dry test were performed.

After day 1, vehicles and software is ready for wet testing at day 2.

Work at IFEMER site starts

posted 22 Jul 2013, 03:01 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 22 Jul 2013, 08:09 ]

We are already installed at Toulon IFREMER site. Today, after a brief meeting this morning, work started setting up the computers network and getting prepared for HIL simulations. We are also preparing preparing the robots for the wet test. Things are starting to happen :-).

Cooperative Path Following with G500 & SPARUS in Surface

posted 20 Jul 2013, 05:21 by Pere Ridao Rodríguez   [ updated 20 Jul 2013, 05:28 ]

G500 & SPARUS CPF at Costa Brava 
During Friday July the 12th, in preparation to the Toulon Trials UdG tested the IST Cooperative Path following algorithm of GIRONA 500 and SPARUS AUVs at Sant Feliu in Costa Brava (Girona - Spain). The algorithm is integrated with the MORPH software architecture and interfaces with our vehicle software through a wrapper. The mission was demonstrated one day earlier using the HIL simulation with UWSim at CIRS. The figure shows the results of the execution in NED coordinates. The trial was succesful, being ready to reproduce it at Toulon this week.

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