AUV path planning for High-Resolution Localization of Marine Animals

March 14, 2012 - via Rutgers University

ECE Professor Waheed Bajwa received initial support of $80,000 from the VPR's office to pursue joint research with Marine and Coastal Sciences Professor Thomas M. Grothues on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) path planning for high-resolution localization of marine animals. A short project description follows.

Adaptive AUV Path Planning for High-Resolution Localization of Marine Animals
The ability to monitor distribution and movement of mobile marine animals at the level of the individual is critical for understanding of population structure and habitat use. Studies of individual movement under the sea surface were once relegated to marking studies, required re-capture, and usually culminated with only two data points per tagged animal. Remote, frequent or continuous monitoring of individuals without recapture (telemetry) was made possible by the development of coded acoustic transmitters that could be implanted in fish and functioned in saltwater (unlike radio frequency transmitters). Acoustic telemetry has greatly enhanced our understanding of marine animal movement and its development continues.

This research project will increase our ability to understand the spatial distribution and movement of aquatic and marine animals in relation to their habitat by orders of magnitude in difficult and under-sampled habitats. The key enabling technology for this will be autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), fully integrated with hydrophones to detect acoustic transmitters (tags) and other sensors.

Specifically, this project will result in an adaptive AUV-based telemetric mapping of multiple tagged animals. At the heart of this research effort will be an AUV that can perform on-board data analysis and path planning to map multiple animals, rather than one that follows a pre-planned route. One of the transformative contributions of this research project, therefore, will be an AUV that autonomously processes the acoustic telemetry data, adaptively adjusts its path in response to the processed data for high-resolution localization of tagged animals, and performs the processing and path planning tasks in a short time frame, thereby ensuring that the AUV covers a large area on a single charge while still mapping as many animals as possible. The goals of this interdisciplinary research project will be accomplished through a collaborative effort between Dr. Grothues, an expert in Marine Sciences, and Dr. Bajwa, an expert in Signal Processing.

Related sites:
Rutgers University Marine Field Station in Tuckerton, NJ

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