The NOPTILUS project: Autonomous Multi-AUV Navigation for Exploration of Uknown Environments ★
Current multi-AUV systems are far from being capable of fully autonomously taking over real-life complex situation-awareness operations. As such operations require advanced reasoning and decision-making abilities, current designs have to heavily rely on human operators. The involvement of humans, however, is by no means a guarantee of performance; humans can easily be over-whelmed by the information overload, fatigue can act detrimentally to their performance, properly coordinating vehicles actions is hard, and continuous operation is all but impossible. Within the European funded project NOPTILUS we take the view that an effective fully-autonomous multi-AUV concept/system, is capable of overcoming these shortcomings, by replacing human-operated operations by a fully autonomous one. In this paper, we present a new approach that is capable to efficiently and fully-autonomously navigate a team of AUV’s when deployed in exploration of unknown static and dynamic environments towards providing accurate static/dynamic maps of the environment. Additionally to achieving to efficiently and fully-autonomously navigate the AUV team, the proposed approach possesses certain advantages such as its extremely computational simplicity and scalability, and the fact that it can very straightforwardly embed and type of physical or other constraints and limitations (e.g., obstacle avoidance, nonlinear sensor noise models, localization fading environments, etc).