Ultra modular autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) systems for shallow-water search
and survey

Samuel Smith, Ph.D.
Florida Atlantic University

Wednesday, December 13, 2000
3:00 p.m.—Pacific Forum

The Advanced Marine Systems Lab at Florida Atlantic University has developed a new ultra modular, plastic mini AUV, called the Morpheus, for coastal oceanographic applications such as sampling, survey, and military applications like very shallow-water mine counter measures (MCM). The name Morpheus was chosen because the Greek god Morpheus could change shape or "morph". In the same spirit, the higher degree of modularity of the AUV Morpheus allows it to change its size and components for different applications. This vehicle is composed of modular injection, molded plastic pressure vessels and a cabling system that allow the modules to be rearranged without rewiring bulkheads. The plastic pressure vessels are inexpensive, inherently mass producible, extremely corrosion resistant, and have low-magnetic signatures. The pressure vessels are small (roughly 12" long by 9" diameter) but are sized to fit most standard electronic board standards such as PC104, 3U VME, Compact PCI, STD 32, and even full size PCI (with two ganged together). The mini AUV can be anywhere from 4 ft. to 10 ft. in length, depending on its mission. A unique feature is the support for hovering capability, with optional cross-body thruster sections. A docking system has been developed for the vehicle as well. The vehicle architecture is an adaptation of the Ocean Explorer AUV system and uses a distributed control network for connecting all sensors and actuator subsystems as smart nodes. The modularity in containers, control, and power makes this vehicle rapidly reconfigurable and easy to repair or upgrade.

This seminar will present details of the design and construction of the new mini AUV as well as several sensor systems. The AUV Morpheus was deployed this summer in field exercises for very shallow and shallow water MCM. Some results from these tests will be presented.

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