To detect items on the ship's hull, HUL uses sonar. Researchers take these images and then process those signals into a grainy point cloud that at a low resolution, can determine something like a ship's propeller, but can't determine where something begins and ends, according to researchers. Therefore, seeing something smaller, such as a 10cm mine -- which is about the size of an iPod -- required a clearer picture from the robot's sonar, researchers said. HULS also would need finer images to avoid colliding with propellers and other protrusions from the ship.
To create this for the control system, researchers adapted an algorithm used in computer graphics to generate a 3D mesh model for their sonar data. The second phase of the research involved programming HULS to swim closer to the ship and navigate the hull based on this mesh model to cover each point on the model, which are spaced 10cm apart. By covering the hull in this way -- which researchers compared to mowing a lawn one strip at a time -- a robot could detect a small mine.
MIT researchers have tested the algorithms by creating underwater models of two vessels -- the Curtiss, a 183-meter military support ship in San Diego, and the Seneca, an 82-meter cutter in Boston. More tests are scheduled in the Boston Harbor this month before the new control system can be used in practice.
The Navy has a number of robotics and unmanned vehicle projects in the works, including another to develop an unmanned vessel to perform tasks too dangerous for manned ships. Indeed, the military is increasingly exploring the design of a new unmanned aircraft and other vehicles to keep military personnel out of harm's way.
Maybe I'm being too literal, but the HAUVs in our nautical robot slideshow http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=246206 are by definition autonomous vehicles (the "A" in HAUV), which means they don 't require human interaction. So I still don't get why the Navy wants to reinvent their own version (and, of course, call it by a different name). Unless it's to have their own algorithm?
Your quite welcome. There's a group of students at ITT Tech buidling a mobile robot using a metal detector kit to locate metal objects for their Capstone Project. Sounds interesting and I look forward to their finish product and results.
Possibly adding an inductive sensing coil similar to a proximity sensor or a metal detector could possibly be used with crab seeking underwater robots to detect the mines. Sounds like a good Capstone project for an undergraduate engineeering team to research and implement.
You make a good point. Some years back we were looking at some sensitivity of mines to metalic objects and some navigation devices to direct divers to mines. The biggest problem was the fact that many mines sence approaching metal as a threat or a target and detonate, so we needed to find one that has a very small or no metal signature. I do not know haw these robots can approach a magnetic mine.
Robotics have been used in space exploration, wood manufacturing, and composites defect inspection applications to alleviate endangerment to humans. Why not the last frontier, oceans. Since crabs scour the ocean floors looking for food, making robot replicas to find mines make perfect since.
That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. I guess I have a hard time "getting" the thought-process of deviant activity. My mind tends to direct thoughts toward constructive, vs. destructive activities. Guess I'd make a poor CIA counter-terrorist!
@JimT-The Navy's not concerned with previously sunken ships--they worry about currently deployed assets at anchor. Consider Fleet Week in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. A carrier group comes in fairly close to shore. A terrorist with rebreather equipment (no bubbles) could deploy a small limpet mine amongst the propellor/rudder structure. These autonomous robots hopefully can detect this if all other security measures have failed. I imagine that the detection algorithm in typically limited visibility and complex structure is what took 10 years to develop and test.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.