An Advanced Pilot Training and Control System for Underwater Robotic Vehicles
Gerald Seet, Tan Kok Cheng, Michael W. S. Lau, and Eicher Low
Robotics Research Centre (R2C) Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang Avenue Singapore 639798
A research team of the Robotics Research Centre (R2C) recently secured a research grant to pursue a research programme relevant to the oil and gas industry. This grant supports the development of technologies and systems for the advancement of knowledge and for possible commercial exploitation. A programme, focusing on the development of a sophisticated Underwater Robotic Vehicle (URV) inspection and repair system, for submerged structures have been initiated. The work reported in this paper focuses on one aspect of the research programme, that of the development of a pilot training and control system incorporating an advanced man-machine interface for improving operator dexterity. In-the-field training of URV pilots is an expensive process. This is in part due to the high cost of maintaining a support vessel at sea. Training simulators can be viewed as a viable solution to this problem. Simulators, however, represents additional costs and in some ways lacks the realism of working on the real system. The R2C researchers proposed a novel simulator configuration. It has developed a dual-purpose topside control system configuration that can be used for training as well as for the control of an actual URV. In the simulator configuration, the physical URV is replaced by a simulator module, which accepts actual commands from the control system and responds with a simulated URV status through an onboard dynamic model of the URV. The simulator module behaves much like the actual URV accepting commands and responds with status information. The advantage of such a system is perceived to be lower system cost as well as a more realistic testing and simulation of the relevant processes.
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