Progressively communicating rich telemetry from autonomous underwater vehicles via relays

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Murphy, Christopher A.
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Underwater acoustic telemetry
Vehicles, remotely piloted
As analysis of imagery and environmental data plays a greater role in mission construction and execution, there is an increasing need for autonomous marine vehicles to transmit this data to the surface. Without access to the data acquired by a vehicle, surface operators cannot fully understand the state of the mission. Communicating imagery and high-resolution sensor readings to surface observers remains a significant challenge – as a result, current telemetry from free-roaming autonomous marine vehicles remains limited to ‘heartbeat’ status messages, with minimal scientific data available until after recovery. Increasing the challenge, longdistance communication may require relaying data across multiple acoustic hops between vehicles, yet fixed infrastructure is not always appropriate or possible. In this thesis I present an analysis of the unique considerations facing telemetry systems for free-roaming Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) used in exploration. These considerations include high-cost vehicle nodes with persistent storage and significant computation capabilities, combined with human surface operators monitoring each node. I then propose mechanisms for interactive, progressive communication of data across multiple acoustic hops. These mechanisms include wavelet-based embedded coding methods, and a novel image compression scheme based on texture classification and synthesis. The specific characteristics of underwater communication channels, including high latency, intermittent communication, the lack of instantaneous end-to-end connectivity, and a broadcast medium, inform these proposals. Human feedback is incorporated by allowing operators to identify segments of data thatwarrant higher quality refinement, ensuring efficient use of limited throughput. I then analyze the performance of these mechanisms relative to current practices. Finally, I present CAPTURE, a telemetry architecture that builds on this analysis. CAPTURE draws on advances in compression and delay tolerant networking to enable progressive transmission of scientific data, including imagery, across multiple acoustic hops. In concert with a physical layer, CAPTURE provides an endto- end networking solution for communicating science data from autonomous marine vehicles. Automatically selected imagery, sonar, and time-series sensor data are progressively transmitted across multiple hops to surface operators. Human operators can request arbitrarily high-quality refinement of any resource, up to an error-free reconstruction. The components of this system are then demonstrated through three field trials in diverse environments on SeaBED, OceanServer and Bluefin AUVs, each in different software architectures.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution June 2012
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Murphy, C. A. (2012). Progressively communicating rich telemetry from autonomous underwater vehicles via relays [Doctoral thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]. Woods Hole Open Access Server.
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