Low-Altitude and High-Speed Terrain Tracking Method for Lightweight AUVs
Toshihiro Maki*, Yukiyasu Noguchi*, Yoshinori Kuranaga*, Kotohiro Masuda*, Takashi Sakamaki*, Marc Humblet**, and Yasuo Furushima***
*Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan
**Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Nagoya University
Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
***Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
2-15 Natsushima, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
This paper proposes a new method for cruising-type autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to track rough seafloors at low altitudes while also maintaining a high surge velocity. Low altitudes are required for visual observation of the seafloor. The operation of AUVs at low altitudes and high surge velocities permits rapid seafloor imaging over a wide area. This method works without high-grade sensors, such as inertial navigation systems (INS), Doppler velocity logs (DVL), or multi-beam sonars, and it can be implemented in lightweight AUVs. The seafloor position is estimated based on a reflection intensity map defined on a vertical plane, using measurements from scanning sonar and basic sensors of depth, attitude, and surge velocity. Then, based on the potential method, a reference pitch angle is generated that allows the AUV to follow the seafloor at a constant altitude. This method was implemented in the AUV HATTORI, and a series of sea experiments were carried out to evaluate its performance. HATTORI (Highly Agile Terrain Tracker for Ocean Research and Investigation) is a lightweight and low-cost testbed designed for rapid and efficient imaging of rugged seafloors, such as those containing coral reefs. The vehicle succeeded in following a rocky terrain at an altitude of approximately 2 m with a surge velocity of approximately 0.8 m/s. This paper also presents the results of sea trials conducted at Ishigaki Island in 2017, where the vehicle succeeded in surveying the irregular, coral-covered seafloor.
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