Figure 1: 3D CAD drawing showing internal systems

MARIN develops a modular Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

MARIN is designing and building a modular Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (mAUV) in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges involved in autonomous sailing. Bas de Kruif, Egbert Ypma & Hans Cozijn,

maintenance. Increased computational power and powerful algorithms allow an AUV to remain operational for prolonged times, without the constant supervision of humans. The AUV’s performance at sea is of importance to enable it to correctly complete its mission: if it does not know where it is when detecting an object, or if it cannot stay stationary during the inspection, the mission’s objective might not be achieved.


MARIN's goal of building an underwater vehicle is that it will serve as a research platform on which we have control over every aspect of the system. Initially we want to examine the dynamic behaviour

utonomous Underwater Vehicles are successfully deployed for inspection, reconnaissance and underwater

of a small vessel interacting with its environment and then all the aspects concerning autonomous sailing. The development of vehicle autonomy will start with simple behaviour and will be extended over time. By using the mAUV in operational scenarios we can learn what level of autonomy is desired.

Modular setup The system is designed as a test platform, and therefore needs to be flexible to include future insights. We opted for a modular setup so parts can be altered or added without a complete redesign. The modules that build up the complete system are the main propulsion, tunnel thrusters, battery pack, control unit and navigational unit. Each of these modules can be replaced for future needs. A 3D CAD drawing of the mAUV is shown in figure 1.

For research into the behaviour of the AUV and for the localisation of objects, the precise location of the vehicle needs to be known. An on board, inertial navigational system (INS) cannot measure absolute positions unless aiding signals and adequate sensor fusion are provided. An optical measurement system based on stereo vision and real-time detection and localisation of markers is used to measure the fixed position of the mAUV in MARIN’s test basin. This location is transmitted as an aiding signal to the navigation system on board to compensate for drift. Combining INS and optical measurements allows the efficient execution of free running experiments in the basin. Acoustic underwater positioning, such as USBL or Doppler Velocity Logs, can replace the optical measurement system when it operates outside the basin.

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