Design of a video recording and tracking system for the NPS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
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The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) is on the leading edge of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) research and is currently developing a new AUV named ARIES. AUVs are principally designed to realize reconnaissance missions. To achieve such tasks, they usually utilize precise range-based sonars. Unfortunately, sonars are often unable to provide a good and efficient description of their environment due to the unclear aspect of many sonar images. To overcome such problems, the ARIES vehicle has a video camera to obtain understandable, classifiable images. This project explains the design of the video system installed on the ARIES AUV. The video system allows the AUV to automatically record and to easily understand the images provide by the AUV's camera. In this way, the AUV is now an efficient "witness" of its surroundings. This project then describes how to utilize the video for vehicle navigation. Such a capability is demonstrated by the simulation of the recovery between an AUV and a host submarine, using an underwater beacon and a light-tracking system. These results show that the use of in-water video for contact recording and navigational tracking can be practical and effective.