Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Kamran Mohseni, Ph.D.
Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
University of Colorado

Bio-inspired aerial and underwater vehicles
for sensor networking

Wednesday – September 12, 2007
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

This presentation has two main focuses: Introducing new bio-inspired capabilities for affordable sensor networking in atmosphere and in oceans.

Autonomous Vehicles including underwater vehicles (AUVs) and micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are a rapidly maturing technology that is on the threshold of assuming a key role in atmospheric and oceanic sensor networking. For instance in oceans, mission profiles require AUVs that can maneuver precisely in tight spaces, keep station, dock autonomously, and travel and loiter for extended periods in hostile territory. Radically different approaches are needed in order to realize this vision. To this end, the intense competition of natural selection means that waste and inefficiency are not tolerated in biological systems and bioinspired designs can therefore enable optimized and efficient solutions for these needs.

In the first part of the presentation I discuss propulsion technology loosely mimicking squid jet propulsion. Squid are the fastest swimmers among all aquatic invertebrates. We have designed, built, and tested vortex ring actuators that mimic squid propulsion. The parameters controlling thrust generation are identified and varied in order to find the optimal set of parameters for generating maximal thrust. Theoretical, computational, and experimental data for thrust characterization are presented. The actuators are implemented on a 1.5 meter unmanned underwater vehicle for various low speed maneuvering missions.

In the second part of the talk I will present a MAV sensor flock for plume characterization in atmosphere. Our current MAVs are equipped with GPS, camera, IMU, pressure-temp-humidity sensors, radio, transmitter, etc. Designing, building, and testing of 4 generations of bio-inspired MAVs as well as field test data for a 5-vehicle cooperating mission are also presented.

Combination of affordable sensor networking in atmosphere and ocean could bring new capabilities for environmental monitoring that are not available with current technology.

Next: September 19 - Felix Ingrand, Ph.D.