Visual Control of an AUV for Multi-Robot Intervention Tasks

Authors Emilio García Fidalgo | Alberto Ortiz Rodriguez | Miquel Massot Campos
In Automar, Castelló, 2017.

In the last decades, robots have been widely used to explore areas hard to reach for humans. Underwater environments fall into this category, since their operating conditions can be considered risky to carry out missions by divers, specially when the mission area is at a high depth. To overcome this problem, a possible approach is to use a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), but it is usually a difficult and expensive solution that requires a sophisticated support infrastructure and specialized staff. In this regard, the project MERBOTS, funded by the Spanish government under grant DPI2014-57746-C3, proposes a new methodology to perform safer and simpler underwater intervention tasks at a lower cost. The proposed system is mainly based on the cooperation of two vehicles: on the one hand, a Hybrid-ROV equipped with a manipulator and a dredge is in charge of performing the supervised intervention task; on the other hand, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) endowed with cameras provides an alternative point of view of the object to manipulate, enabling a robust and a reliable operation.
In order to provide this alternative view, the object to manipulate must appear continuously in the field of view of the camera equipped in the AUV. Therefore, the control of this vehicle must be governed by the position of the target in the image plane, which naturally leads us to an Image- Based Visual Servo (IBVS) control problem [1]. In this case, to compute the corresponding control laws, the position of the target in the image is also required and, therefore, it must be estimated. These tasks are required to be developed inside the SUPERION subproject. Given this scenario, the main contribution of this work is a general framework for controlling an AUV by visual means.


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