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MIT software optimizes paths for automated undersea vehicles (video)

By Darren Murph posted Mar 12th 2012 4:39AM
So, there's good news and bad news. The former is that MIT researchers have developed new software and methods that can predict optimal paths for automated underwater vehicles. The latter is that it's meant to be used for "swarms" of them, "moving all at once toward.... http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/12/mit-software-optimizes-paths-for-automated-undersea-vehicles/

Uploaded by  on Mar 8, 2012
Sometimes the fastest pathway from point A to point B is not a straight line: for example, if you're underwater and contending with strong and shifting currents. But figuring out the best route in such settings is a monumentally complex problem — especially if you're trying to do it not just for one underwater vehicle, but for a swarm of them moving all at once toward separate destinations.

But that's just what a team of engineers at MIT has figured out how to do, in research results to be presented in May at the annual IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. The team, led by Pierre Lermusiaux, the Doherty Associate Professor in Ocean Utilization, developed a mathematical procedure that can optimize path planning for automated underwater vehicles (AUVs), even in regions with complex shorelines and strong shifting currents. The system can provide paths optimized either for the shortest travel time or for the minimum use of energy, or to maximize the collection of data that is considered most important.

Collections of propelled AUVs and gliding AUVs (also called gliders) are now often used for mapping and oceanographic research, for military reconnaissance and harbor protection, or for deep-sea oil-well maintenance and emergency response. So far, fleets of up to 20 such AUVs have been deployed, but in the coming years far larger fleets could come into service, Lermusiaux says, making the computational task of planning optimal paths much more complex.
Read more: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/underwater-swarms-robots-0308.html

Video: Melanie Gonick
Computer simulations courtesy of Pierre Lermusiaux