Design of an autonomous underwater vehicle : vehicle tracking and position control.
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This project proposes the development of an autonomous underwater vehicle that can be used to perform underwater research missions..The vehicle can be pre-programmed to complete a specified mission. Missions may include underwater pipe inspection, a survey of the sea floor or just the transport of given sensors to a certain depth or position and take measurements of underwater conditions. The Mechatronics and Micro Manufacturing group at the CSIR is engaged in developing a portfolio of autonomous vehicles as well as fur- ther research into the development and implementation of such vehicles. Underwater vehicles will form part of the portfolio of autonomous vehicle research. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are mostly used for research purposes in oceanographic studies as well as climate studies. These scientists use AUVs to carry a payload of sensors to specified depths and take measurements of underwater conditions, such as water temperature, water salinity or carbon levels as carbon is being released by plankton or other ocean organisms. Very little information is available about what is happening below the surface of the oceans and AUVs are being used to investigate this relatively unknown environment. The area covered by the world's ocean is 361 million km2 with an average depth of 3790 m. The deepest surveyed depth point in the ocean is at a depth of about 11 000 m at the southern end of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. This just shows the need for research into this mostly unexplored world. Research and exploration in the oceans can be achieved through the use of autonomous underwater vehicles. A big problem to overcome is the fact that GPS is not available for navigation in an underwater environment. Other sensors need to be found to be used for navigational purposes. The particular vehicle developed for this study will be used to facili- tate further research into underwater vehicle navigation and underwater robotics.