Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world that contain enormous natural resources (including reefs, fish breeding grounds, oil and gas reserves etc ). Such a resource must be managed and protected. The efficient management of our coastal resources will require autonomous machines that are capable of routine monitoring, inspection and maintenance tasks e.g.. inspecting and repairing weld joints of oil rigs in Bass Strait or gathering crown of thorns starfish that have been invading the Great Barrier Reef. Currently only ANU and Sydney University are actively engaged in Autonomous Underwater Vehicle research within Australia. Our aim is to build a submersible robot which will serve as a test bed for experimental research in autonomous subsea operations. This robot will allow researchers to study the fundamental problems of controlling the operations of an underwater vehicle. Most present day submersible robots work via tele-operation where a human operator (on a remote ship on the surface) controls every aspect of the robot's operations. This is inefficient both in terms of human resources and leads to slow execution of tasks. Our aim is to incorporate on board sensors such as sonar, gyros, depth sensors and computer vision that will allow the robot to make its own on board decisions. In this project we are collaborating with the Mechatronics Group at Sydney University led by Prof. Hugh Durrant-Whyte. Research collaboration between ANU and Sydney University for this project are complementary. The ANU submersible is a sister to Sydney University's vessel and of similar design: Max operational depth of 20m, mass 100kg and less than cubic meter in volume. The five thrusters produce five independent degrees of freedom controllable by onboard systems or by remote operation by way of a single umbilical cable.
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