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Talk-17: Environmentally Adaptive Acoustic Sensing, Communication and Navigation by Distributed Undersea Networks

Henrik Schmidt, MIT

The explosive improvement in the capabilities of both hardware and software for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) is rapidly transforming the concept of operations for ocean science, exploration, surveillance and warfare. Thus, autonomous underwater vehicles, including autonomous gliders and propelled vehicles, are now standard tools on research vessels, cabled observatories and naval assets for environmental assessment on both local, regional and global scales. As was the case for manned undersea platforms, underwater acoustics is critical to the operation of such systems, providing the only means for communicating information to, from and between undersea platform beyond a few tens of meters, and as such forms the basis for command and control, navigation, and remote sensing in the ocean. This in turn makes the operation of such systems highly sensitive to the acoustic environment with its convergence zones and extensive shadow regions, making it critical to robust operations to augment the network and platform control with an artificial intelligence framework which, using environmental acoustic modeling allows the network to autonomously adapt its configuration for optimal sensing, communication and navigation. Using the MOOS-IvP autonomy architecture, such a model-based environmental adaptation framework has been developed and demonstrated in simulation and in field deployments [Work supported by ONR, DARPA and Battelle].


  • AUVs
  • Ocean Acoustics