Mobile Data Collection in an Aquatic Environment: Cyber Maritime Cycles for Distributed Autonomy

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Zhang, Fumin
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There is a perceivable trend for robots to serve as networked mobile sensing platforms that are able to collect data in aquatic environments in unprecedented ways. We argue that the effective transformation between Eulerian and Lagrangian data streams represents a fundamental principle underlying many ongoing research efforts. Timely transformation of data streams is the major challenge to construct cyber cycles that are needed by marine autonomy. Data-driven machine learning methods have great potential but are constrained by special difficulties for underwater communication. A distributed autonomy structure that is able to cope with the limited information sharing is envisioned as the future. This challenge can only be addressed by interdisciplinary efforts from researchers in underwater acoustics, underwater networking, and marine robotics. This talk will discuss recent advancements towards integrating marine robotic platforms with underwater communication and networking technology. In particular, we will address the influences from both environmental motions (caused by ocean flow) and controllable platform motion on the transformation of the data streams. Even though such motions have been known to degrade the performance of acoustic communication and networking, the quantitative relationships have yet to be established, calling for tremendous efforts for theoretical analysis, simulations, and experimental study. One of our approaches, named motion tomography (MT), develop generic environmental models (GEMs) to combine computational ocean models with real-time data streams collected by mobile sensing platforms to provide high-resolution predictions of ocean current in a small spatial area around the mobile platforms. With better known environmental motion, the performance of acoustic networking can be better analyzed as demonstrated through lab-based experiments leveraging micro autonomous vehicles equipped with acoustic modems. Our efforts also indicate that future research requires an open and cost-effective experimental infrastructure that integrates marine robotic platforms, an underwater acoustic device, and underwater networking equipment.
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51:12 minutes
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