Building oceanographic and atmospheric observation networks by composition: unmanned vehicles, communication networks, and planning and execution control frameworks

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Joao Tasso Sousa, José Pinto, Ricardo Martins, Maria Costa, Filipe Ferreira and Ricardo Gomes, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
The problem of developing mobile oceanographic and atmospheric observation networks (MOAO) with coordinated air and ocean vehicles is discussed in the framework of the communications and control software tool chain developed at Underwater Systems and Technologies Laboratory (LSTS) from Porto University. This is done with reference to field experiments to illustrate key capabilities and to assess future MOAO operations. First, the motivation for building MOAO by “composition” of air and ocean vehicles, communication networks, and planning and execution control frameworks is discussed – in networked vehicle systems information and commands are exchanged among multiple vehicles and operators, and the roles, relative positions, and dependencies of these vehicles and operators change during operations. Second, the planning and execution control framework developed at LSTS for multi-vehicle systems is discussed with reference to key concepts such as autonomy, mixed-initiative interactions, and layered organization. Third, the LSTS tool software tool chain is presented to show how to develop MOAO by composition. The tool chain comprises the Neptus command and control framework for mixed initiative interactions, the underlying IMC messaging protocol, and the DUNE on-board software. Fourth, selected LSTS operational deployments illustrate MOAO capability building. In 2012 we demonstrated the use of UAS to “ferry” data from UUVs located beyond line of sight (BLOS). In 2013 we demonstrated coordinated observations of coastal fronts with small UAS and UUVs, “bent” BLOS through the use of UAS as communication relays, and UAS tracking of juvenile hammer-head sharks. In 2014 we demonstrated UUV adaptive sampling with the closed loop controller of the UUV residing on a UAS; this was done with the help of a Wave Glider ASV with a communications gateway. The results from these experiments provide a background for assessing potential future UAS operations in a compositional MOAO.