"Follow the leader" tracking by autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) using acoustic communications and ranging
Kucik, Daniel P.
Horner, Douglas P.
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With advances in computer and sensor technologies, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are now capable of reaching a level of independent action once thought impossible. Through the use of cooperative behaviors it is possible to further increase their autonomy by allowing multiple operating AUVs to simultaneously coordinate their activities in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall system. This thesis research defines the algorithms and rules needed to perform "follow the leader" cooperative behaviors during AUV rendezvous. This is a low-level first step towards more sophisticated cooperative behaviors, such as swarming or new forms of obstacle/trap avoidance. The approach taken here differs from previous research in that it does not rely on beacons or locator sensors, but instead uses ranging and intention information shared between the vehicles using acoustic communications. Several tools and algorithms are presented to support the future development of cooperative behaviors. In particular, a previously developed 3D virtual world simulator that utilizes dynamics-based vehicle models has been enhanced to support multiple simultaneously operating vehicles. Finally, a procedural algorithm is shown to correct the relative navigation errors between two vehicles through the use of vehicle-to-vehicle communications and ranging information obtained via acoustic modems.
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