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Underwater docking of autonomous undersea vehicles using optical terminal guidance

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3 Author(s)
Cowen, S. ; RDT&E Div., Naval Ocean Syst. Center, San Diego, CA, USA ; Briest, S. ; Dombrowski, J.

Missions in which an autonomous undersea vehicle docks with an underwater node for the purpose of battery recharging and/or data transfer greatly increase the scope of potential applications possible with UUVs. Robust and accurate vehicle guidance to a small, simple and reliable docking structure is a critical capability which must be developed in order to achieve this end. This paper describes a simple but highly effective underwater vehicle guidance scheme which is based upon an optical quadrant tracker which locks onto a visible light source located at the dock in the same manner as a Sidewinder air-to-air missile tracks its target in air. An optical terminal guidance system based upon this concept was developed by NRaD. Optical guidance and docking was demonstrated using two autonomous underwater vehicles: a SeaGrant Odyssey IIB and the NRaD Flying Plug. The optical docking system was demonstrated to be accurate and robust for vehicle terminal guidance during field operations and provided targeting accuracy on the order of 1 centimeter under real-world conditions, even in turbid bay water. Such a system is projected to provide reliable terminal vehicle guidance to an underwater dock from a maximum acquisition range of approximately 100 meters in typical continental shelf ocean water

Published in:

OCEANS '97. MTS/IEEE Conference Proceedings  (Volume:2 )

Date of Conference:

6-9 Oct 1997