Constructing a distributed AUV network for underwater plume-tracking operations
Petillo, Stephanie M.
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In recent years, there has been significant concern about the impacts of offshore oil spill plumes and harmful algal blooms on the coastal ocean environment and biology, as well as on the human populations adjacent to these coastal regions. Thus, it has become increasingly important to determine the 3D extent of these ocean features (“plumes”) and how they evolve over time. The ocean environment is largely inaccessible to sensing directly by humans, motivating the need for robots to intelligently sense the ocean for us. In this paper, we propose the use of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) network to track and predict plume shape and motion, discussing solutions to the challenges of spatiotemporal data aliasing (coverage versus resolution), underwater communication, AUV autonomy, data fusion, and coordination of multiple AUVs. A plume simulation is also developed here as the first step toward implementing behaviors for autonomous, adaptive plume tracking with AUVs, modeling a plume as a sum of Fourier orders and examining the resulting errors. This is then extended to include plume forecasting based on time variations, and future improvements and implementation are discussed.
© The Author(s), 2012. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks 2012 (2012): 191235, doi:10.1155/2012/191235.
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