Toward autonomous exploration in confined underwater environments
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In this field note we detail the operations and discuss the results of an experiment conducted in the unstructured environment of an underwater cave complex, using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). For this experiment the AUV was equipped with two acoustic sonar to simultaneously map the caves’ horizontal and vertical surfaces. Although the caves’ spatial complexity required AUV guidance by a diver, this field deployment successfully demonstrates a scan matching algorithm in a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) framework that significantly reduces and bounds the localization error for fully autonomous navigation. These methods are generalizable for AUV exploration in confined underwater environments where surfacing or pre-deployment of localization equipment are not feasible and may provide a useful step toward AUV utilization as a response tool in confined underwater disaster areas.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2015. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of John Wiley & Sons for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Field Robotics 33 (2016): 994-1012, doi:10.1002/rob.21640.