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Talk-13: Morpheus AUV --- Design of a Highly maneuverable Micro-AUV with On-the-fly Stability-Agility Altering Capability for A-sized Decoy Swarming

Supun Randeni (MIT), Mike Sacarny (MIT) and Nick Rypkema (WHOI), Michael Benjamin (MIT), Michael Triantafyllou (MIT).

The Morpheus is an A-sized AUV class, developed at the AUV Laboratory in the MIT Sea Grant College Program, with funding from Lockheed Martin. By adopting tuna-inspired morphing fins, which can be deployed, deflected and retracted as needed, the Morpheus AUV is capable of dynamically changing its stability-maneuverability qualities. Hence, the vehicle is able to achieve good directional stability, exceptional maneuverability, and minimal adverse response to turbulent flow, properties that are highly desirable for rigid hull AUVs, but are presently difficult to achieve because they impose contradictory requirements.

We have developed the AUV Morpheus; by altering a MK-39 EMATT vehicle designed and produced by Lockheed Martin Sippican, Inc, augmented with an optimized nose-cone, tail section, morphing fin mechanism, and enhanced hardware, software, navigation and autonomy capabilities. A new frontseat software stack was developed, based on the Beagle Bone single-board computer, using MOOS middleware. MOOS-IvP and HydroMAN 2.0 was used for autonomy and navigation, respectively. A physics-based, high-fidelity vehicle simulator was developed to conduct software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop simulations for various hull-form and appendage configurations, enabling us to optimize the vehicle design at a lower cost.

The Morpheus AUV is now being used for the project Perseus, focused on the development of a small, low-cost passive acoustic sensor array mounted on the nose of Morpheus. This sensor will provide accurate detection and bearing information to external sound sources of interest, as well as other nearby Morpheus co-deployed platforms. This technology will enable multi-vehicle swarm autonomy missions and deployments of Morpheus AUVs deployed in formations of interest to various missions of interest, using only the passive array and sound from collaborating vehicles. One such formation includes dynamically formed linear convoys, developed in a related thread under the Morpheus project.


  • UUVs
  • Passive Acoustic Sensiing
  • Vehicle Control
  • Swarming