Unmanned Marine Vehicle Use at Hurricanes Wilma and Ike
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The Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue has fielded two AEOS man-portable unmanned surface, a YSI Ecomapper and VideoRay underwater marine vehicle in the aftermath of Hurricanes Wilma (2005, Florida) and Ike (2008, Texas) for littoral structural inspection. By providing above and below waterline inspection of roads, bridges, seawalls, robots could cut the time involved in determining how to repair a bridge from on order of a month to a few days and could eliminate the need for divers to risk their lives trying to see and move around debris in cloudy, fast-moving currents. For example, using a DIDSON acoustic camera, healthy pilings were seen at Rollover Pass Bridge but scour was seen at the Marco Island bridge. The AEOS unmanned surface vehicle is a catamaran style design with a central T-shaped chassis that supports the electronics, instrumentation and control system. The footprint is 1.9m long and 1.2m wide with a minimum draft of 0.3m. The USV is engineered for autonomous and teleoperated control. The custom software allows for point and click waypoint inputs through a Google Earth style interface. All data and system information is georeferenced and databased. Besides illustrating the utility of unmanned marine vehicles for hurricane damage assessment, the field work identified many open research questions for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). Fully autonomous control in USVs is hampered by the loss of GPS and inaccuracies near structures, such as going under bridges as well as rough seas and currents. Even with accurate GPS, the simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) for super- and sub-structures is difficult. USVs suffer from the limitations of wireless communications, including intermittent loss and low bandwidth compared with the amount of video imagery being transmitted. Atmospheric effects such as fog and spray interfere with autonomous sensing and avoidance as well as teleoperation. ©2009 MTS.
author list (cited authors)
Steimle, E. T., Murphy, R. R., Lindemuth, M., Hall, M. L., & IEEE, ..