Control of Single and Multiple Autonomous Robots for Ocean Exploration: Theory and Practice

Speaker: Dr. Anthony Pascoal

The last decade has witnessed tremendous progress in the development of marine technologies that are steadily affording scientists advanced equipment and methods for ocean exploration and exploitation. Recent advances in marine robotics, sensors, computers, communications, and information systems are being applied to develop sophisticated technologies that will lead to safer, faster, and far more efficient ways of exploring the ocean frontier, especially in hazardous conditions. As part of this trend, there has been a surge of interest worldwide in the development of autonomous marine robots capable of roaming the oceans freely and collecting data at the surface of the ocean and underwater on an unprecedented scale. Representative examples are autonomous surface craft (ASC) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The mission scenarios envisioned call for the control of single or multiple AUVs acting in cooperation to execute challenging tasks without close supervision of human operators.
This talk addresses the general topic of marine vehicle control from both a theoretical and a practical standpoint. The presentation is rooted in practical developments and experiments. Examples of scientific mission scenarios with ASCs and AUVs, acting alone or in cooperation, set the stage for the main contents of the presentation. In line with current trends, special attention is given to the challenging task of developing networked control strategies capable of yielding robust performance of a fleet of vehicles in the presence of complex vehicle dynamics and severe acoustic-based navigation and communication constraints, where the latter are imposed by intermittent failures and latency.


Antonio Pascoal received his PhD in Control Science from the Univ. Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA in 1987 under the guidance of Prof. Pramod Khargonekar. From 1987-88 he was a Research Scientist with Integrated Systems Incorporated, Santa Clara, California were he participated in the development of advanced robotic systems for the US Air Force and Army. He has held visiting positions with the Dept. Electrical Eng., Univ. Michigan, USA, the Dept. Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Monterey, California, USA, and the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India. He was the coordinator of two EC funded projects (UBC and SOUV) that led to the development of the first European civilian autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named MARIUS. He has been active in the design, development, and operation of autonomous underwater and surface vehicles for scientific applications in the scope of several projects projects funded by the Portuguese Government, the NSF/NPS (USA), the EU (projects DESIBEL, EXOCET, and ASIMOV) and the Government of India / Agency for Innovation of Portugal (MAYA project) . He is an Associate Professor of the Instituto Superior T├ęcnico (IST, Lisbon, Portugal) and Coordinator of the Dynamical Systems and Ocean Robotics Lab of ISR (Institute for Systems and Robotics) of IST. His areas of expertise include Dynamical Systems Theory, Navigation, Guidance, and Control of Autonomous Vehicles, and Coordinated Motion Control of Marine Robots. He has an interest in history of science and in the application of robotics to underwater archaeology.

Presented On: April 27th, 2007
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