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Smart and Networking UnderWAter Robots in Cooperation Meshes

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SWARMs (Smart and Networking UnderWAter Robots in Cooperation Meshes)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-07-31

Nowadays, the major part of subsea and offshore operations is done by divers in dangerous missions. This is true for all construction, repair and maintenance work in shallow waters, be it in the offshore renewable energy sector, the port infrastructure sector or dealing with subsea cables and pipelines. Since the number of available divers is limited and their deployment is very expensive, the dependency on their work represents a real threat to the offshore industry. The SWARMs project aims to solve this problem by extending the use of underwater vehicles (autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)). This will be achieved by enabling AUVs and ROVs to collaborate in a cooperative mesh, thus increasing the reliability of AUV/ROV operations. Since in such a collaborative mesh vehicles can combine their functionalities, new applications become feasible. Additionally the SWARMs project will increase the autonomy of AUVs and improve the usability of ROVs by introducing new operator assistance functions for intuitive control. This will substantially reduce training times for operators which nowadays take up to five years. In contrast to present day subsea machinery, the SWARMs system will be very versatile, allowing seamless integration of new robots from different manufacturers. There is thus no need any more for tailor-made systems without any re-usability. This will increase the cost-efficiency of AUVs/ROVs and make them accessible to industries with less financial strength than the oil and gas industry. This way, by reducing the costs of offshore operations and making new applications possible, SWARMs will increase Europe’s competitiveness in the offshore and subsea sector. Moreover, the technologies developed within this project will also give Europe a head start in the emerging deep sea mining business where new subsea technologies will also be needed.
Within WP1 was developed according to the foreseen objectives, by coordinating and monitoring all project activities to ensure conformance with the project schedule during its whole lifetime, organizing and cordinating the project meetings, the administrative issues, the risk management, technical coordination of the project and quality control assurance.
WP2 achivements:
• A methodology for development of autonomous systems for marine operations
• Guidelines on how autonomous underwater agents for maritime operations and systems should be designed
• Detailed communication model for SWARMs information exchange.
WP3 achivements:
• Architecture that enables AUVs, ROVs and USVs to cooperate in overwater & underwater environments
• Semantic information model for management of maritime missions
• DDS based middleware for reliable RF and acoustic communications
• MMT for mission planning and supervision
• Multi-vehicle mission planning and re-planning algorithms
WP4 achivements:
• Real-time QA/QC for bathymetric data collection and mission adaptation capability
• Post-mission sonar image processing repository UNDROIP with algorithms for data pre-processing, feature extraction, seabed labelling and map matching.
• Context awareness Framework for situational and environmental awareness for mission management
• Improved vision algorithms, including real-time stereovision and use of polarized light, for object identification and motion estimation
WP5 achivements:
• Robust communication network protocol stack for underwater and overwater nodes management
• Build a high speed underwater acoustic data link
• Build a short range high bandwidth underwater acoustic data link
• Define, develop, integrate and deploy the SWARMs communication framework
WP6 achivements:
• Modular Robot On-board Software Architecture (RSOA) based on ROS, for executing and re-planning tasks autonomously
• Intelligent mechanisms for mission adaptation when disruptive events appear
• RSOA adaptation to different AUVs, USVs and ROVs
WP7 achivements:
• Intuitive Input Device and User Interface
• Simulator for underwater vehicles and missions for model based engineering and mission testing
• Autonomous docking methods for underwater vehicles
• Sensory based motion primitives for selected vehicles
• 3D path planning algorithms
• Cartesian Control of underwater manipulators
WP8 achivements:
• Three demonstrator scenarios fully defined
• Definition of missions and submissions for the SWARMs demonstrators
• Implementation of the demonstrations in the Atlantic Sea, Black Sea and Norwegian coast line
WP9 achivements:
• Promotion and dissemination through different channels
• Participations in relevant industrial trade fairs and scientific conferences
• Organization of 3 specific SWARMs events to promote and disseminate key outcomes
• Papers presented at conferences and scientific articles in relevant journals
• Newsletters showcasing the major promising results to a broad audience
• Open source SW packages, patent, SWARMs book (under editing)
• Presence, via website and major online social networks
• Consolidated exploitation plans and roadmaps namely from industrial partners
• Fruitful cooperation activities with other relevant EU projects
• Establishment of potential new business models
SWARMs will strengthen the European industrial competitiveness and growth by reducing costs for offshore and subsea construction, repair and maintenance tasks. For example, this will allow Europe to extend its port infrastructure, which is important, given the ever increasing globalization. Also, offshore infrastructure will be less cost-intensive to construct and maintain, thus allowing Europe to develop its offshore energy sector, installing offshore wind parks or striving into more innovative ways to harvest energy from the ocean, such as ocean current and tidal turbines or wave energy converters. In this way, SWARMs will also improve Europe’s innovation capacities. Moreover, cost-reduction due to the SWARMs approach will also help the oil and gas industry in the Black and North Seas evolve. Both aspects will help Europe to meet its energetic needs.
SWARMs approach, once tested within the project, can be adopted and replicated in different sectors under the umbrella of the Integrated Maritime Policy, including monitoring Good Environmental Status indicators identified in the MSFD. SWARMS’ approach could also contribute to the Integrated Maritime Surveillance improving monitoring activities and reducing the environmental impact of more traditional monitoring activities dependent on fuel.
SWARMs’ approach will also aim to sensibly reduce the human risk-factor associated with offshore operations. This will be achieved by reducing the employment of divers for difficult long operations in extreme environmental conditions, thus contributing to increasing the safety of the operations. At the same time, personnel will be required by SWARMs to remotely command the systems deployed thus improving the job profiles required and guaranteeing employment sustainability.
SWARMs Platform Concept
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