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Inspired by the command structure of a manned submarine, we have developed a Command and Control (C2) system for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that allocates mission, navigation and vehicle tasks to individual self-contained agents, each with their own responsibilities and behaviors. These agents are distributed over different levels of control hierarchies where they behave deliberately at the supervisory level and reactively at the vehicle and navigational level. The collective interactions among the pool of agents enables the AUV to achieve its mission objectives autonomously. The mission supervisory level adopts a backseat driver paradigm where mission-level decisions are made based on the inputs provided by a pool of backseat driver (BD) agents. Each BD agent is responsible for handling different aspects of a mission and provides input in the form of mission points to achieve specific mission sub-tasks. This approach offers several advantages. Firstly, complex mission objectives can be divided into simpler mission sub-tasks and handled by different BD agents. Secondly, the C2 system's capabilities in coping with new mission scenarios can be easily extended through the introduction of new BD agents that generates the required maneuvering patterns. New mission behaviors may emerge from the cooperation and/or competition among the BD agents. These complex behaviors increase the level of mission autonomy. The C2 system described above is being used in the STARFISH AUVs and has been used to perform single AUV surveying missions as well as multi-AUV cooperative positioning missions.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), 2012 IEEE/OES
Date of Conference: 24-27 Sept. 2012