Inspection of ship hulls and offshore marine structures using autonomous underwater vehicles has emerged as a unique and challenging application of robotics. The problem poses rich questions in physical design and operation, perception and navigation, and planning, driven by difficulties arising from the acoustic environment, poor water quality and the highly complex structures to be inspected, among others. On the open hull, robust integrated acoustic and visual mapping processes are needed to achieve closed-loop control relative to features such as weld-lines and biofouling. In the complex area, implementation of new large-scale planning routines are required so as to achieve full imaging coverage of all the structures, at a resolution adequate to see small objects of interest to the user. UM has, since 2007, collaborated with colleagues at MIT and with Bluefin Robotics on an Office of Naval Research sponsored project for autonomous hull inspection that has been recently demonstrated using the Bluefin Robotics Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV) platform.
About the Professor
About the Professor: Ryan Eustice is an Assistant Professor in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. His research focuses on the topics of imaging and underwater robotics. Research areas include: vision-aided navigation, underwater image processing, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), multiple vehicle networks, long-term autonomy and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). His methodology is to address fundamental enabling theoretical and technical issues within the above areas and to experimentally verify his results within real-world robotic tasks.