A Low Cost System for Autonomous Surface Vehicle based Hydrographic Survey

TitleA Low Cost System for Autonomous Surface Vehicle based Hydrographic Survey
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
AuthorsManda, D, Thein, M-W, D'Amore, A, Armstrong, AA
Conference NameU.S. Hydrographic Conference 2015
Conference DatesMarch 16 - 19
Keywordsasv, autonomous, hydrography

Use of autonomous vehicles for hydrographic surveying has been primarily limited to underwater systems with autonomous surface vehicles only recently entering routine use. Operation on the ocean surface simplifies position measurement, relaxes power limitations and reduces hull sealing, which reduces design costs for vehicles. However, the existing systems for autonomous command and control are often proprietary, expensive and designed for a single platform.


The system developed at the Joint Hydrographic Center minimizes cost while maximizing functionality and flexibility by leveraging mass produced, open source hardware and software. Long range WiFi is utilized for monitoring the autonomous operation vessel and provides the ability to natively interface onboard sonar systems with acquisition software. A hobby radio control system is used for remote human override. Onboard processing uses an embedded Linux platform running the open source MOOS-IvP autonomy framework. Sensor input and control output as well as fail-safes are handled by an independent microcontroller. Position and orientation input can be accepted from an existing source on the vessel or use a MEMS INS for simple deployments. The total autonomy system cost is under $1000.


The system is being initially integrated and tested on the NOAA 65” micro ASV EMILY for shallow water hydrography.