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Cooperative localisation in underwater robotic swarms for ocean bottom seismic imaging.

Sabra, Adham


Adham Sabra


Wai-Keung Fung


Spatial information must be collected alongside the data modality of interest in wide variety of sub-sea applications, such as deep sea exploration, environmental monitoring, geological and ecological research, and samples collection. Ocean-bottom seismic surveys are vital for oil and gas exploration, and for productivity enhancement of an existing production facility. Ocean-bottom seismic sensors are deployed on the seabed to acquire those surveys. Node deployment methods used in industry today are costly, time-consuming and unusable in deep oceans. This study proposes the autonomous deployment of ocean-bottom seismic nodes, implemented by a swarm of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). In autonomous deployment of ocean-bottom seismic nodes, a swarm of sensor-equipped AUVs are deployed to achieve ocean-bottom seismic imaging through collaboration and communication. However, the severely limited bandwidth of underwater acoustic communications and the high cost of maritime assets limit the number of AUVs that can be deployed for experiments. A holistic fuzzy-based localisation framework for large underwater robotic swarms (i.e. with hundreds of AUVs) to dynamically fuse multiple position estimates of an autonomous underwater vehicle is proposed. Simplicity, exibility and scalability are the main three advantages inherent in the proposed localisation framework, when compared to other traditional and commonly adopted underwater localisation methods, such as the Extended Kalman Filter. The proposed fuzzy-based localisation algorithm improves the entire swarm mean localisation error and standard deviation (by 16.53% and 35.17% respectively) at a swarm size of 150 AUVs when compared to the Extended Kalman Filter based localisation with round-robin scheduling. The proposed fuzzy based localisation method requires fuzzy rules and fuzzy set parameters tuning, if the deployment scenario is changed. Therefore a cooperative localisation scheme that relies on a scalar localisation confidence value is proposed. A swarm subset is navigationally aided by ultra-short baseline and a swarm subset (i.e. navigation beacons) is configured to broadcast navigation aids (i.e. range-only), once their confidence values are higher than a predetermined confidence threshold. The confidence value and navigation beacons subset size are two key parameters for the proposed algorithm, so that they are optimised using the evolutionary multi-objective optimisation algorithm NSGA-II to enhance its localisation performance. Confidence value-based localisation is proposed to control the cooperation dynamics among the swarm agents, in terms of aiding acoustic exteroceptive sensors. Given the error characteristics of a commercially available ultra-short baseline system and the covariance matrix of a trilaterated underwater vehicle position, dead reckoning navigation - aided by Extended Kalman Filter-based acoustic exteroceptive sensors - is performed and controlled by the vehicle's confidence value. The proposed confidence-based localisation algorithm has significantly improved the entire swarm mean localisation error when compared to the fuzzy-based and round-robin Extended Kalman Filter-based localisation methods (by 67.10% and 59.28% respectively, at a swarm size of 150 AUVs). The proposed fuzzy-based and confidence-based localisation algorithms for cooperative underwater robotic swarms are validated on a co-simulation platform. A physics-based co-simulation platform that considers an environment's hydrodynamics, industrial grade inertial measurement unit and underwater acoustic communications characteristics is implemented for validation and optimisation purposes.


SABRA, A. 2021. Cooperative localisation in underwater robotic swarms for ocean bottom seismic imaging. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 8, 2021
Keywords Underwater imaging; Robotic imaging; Remote sensing; Remote sensors
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