New year, new student

A new year is upon us. We are now 14 months from the end of CoCoRo, not quite time to panic, but not impossibly far off either. Its time to knuckle down to some AIS (artificial immune system)-oriented fault tolerance in our shoals of AUVs.

Over the past year I’ve done some work on shoaling in underwater swarm robotics. Communication and distance sensing underwater is problematic, electromagnetic signals are hugely attenuated. Our robots don’t have the capacity for sophisticated visual processing, so we rely on bluelight systems (blue LEDs and photodiodes) to detect distances between AUVs. The range of bluelight and radio frequency systems underwater will be 50cm at best. This equates to about 5 AUV body lengths. Our studies to date have shown that creating well-aligned shoals without communication of velocities between members of the shoal is incredibly difficult (if not impossible). This work is going to be carried on by Sophie Alexander, an Engineering MEng student who is going to investigate shoaling algorithms in this challenging underwater context. To the left is a nice picture of 15 CoCoRo AUVs, well aligned (but not shoaling) on the table.