Ocean Systems Lab  
Ocean Systems Lab Heriot-Watt University Ocean Systems Laboratory

Research

Our research covers three main areas:

Autonomous Systems

In Autonomous Systems, our fundamental work has developed novel planning, obstacle avoidance, world modelling, operator dialog and visual servoing methods for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and integrated them within open system architectures. Intelligent diagnostic systems using ontology modelling and fusion of multiple diagnostic methods have been developed and are capable of incipient fault detection or the detection of previously unforeseen faults for AUVs, rail transport and shortly renewable energy applications. Hardware in the loop and augmented reality methods are routinely used for system development and integration. Read more ...

Sensor modeling and analysis


In Sensor modeling and analysis, novel navigation algorithms have been developed sharing information from multiple sensors. Robust Markov Random Fields and other model-based detection and classification algorithms have been successfully developed and trialed seeking mine like objects, seabed trawling impact and marine mammals in acoustic and video data. Robust real time multiple target tracking algorithms using finite sets statistics and more traditional Kalman and Particle Filters based techniques have been developed for sonar tracking and applied to pipeline tracking, survey and autonomous docking. New sonar modeling tools and sonar designs in the 100+kHz have been developed and validated both theoretically and experimentally. Some fundamental work using fractional Fourier transform has validated the time-varying multi-down chirp structure of the Dolphin echolocation. In turn, we have developed adaptive broadband multi-chirp sonar design and evaluated their performance in detection of difficult maritime targets and the classification of underwater objects. We are now developing new Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) sonar designs for improved target discrimination. Read more ...

Experimental Validation


Our approach has always been to approach research problems by a triangle linking theoretical analysis, software simulations and experimental validation. Our tank facilities enable us to validate the theory and simulation findings in real experiments. We also own four underwater vehicles enabling us to validate our algorithms, sonar designs and autonomous systems developments in real outdoor experiments. Recent examples include collaborative planning for underwater survey and target classification and the validation of a Bio-Sonar design for pipeline and cable tracking applications. Read more ...

International Collaborations


We have a long record of collaborative work at UK and International Level. Back in the 1990s we were involved in the EU funded AMADEUS-I and AMADEUS-II projects aiming at developing dextrous arms for underwater manipulation. We developed obstacle avoidance and automatic video analysis algorithms in the EU project ARAMIS (1997-2000) and tackled autonomous Docking and Pipeline Inspection in the EU projects ALIVE (2000-2003) and AUTOTRACKER (2000-2003) whilst AMASON (2001-2004) was dedicated to the development of sensor fusion techniques. The outcome of Autotracker and Amason have been successfully commercialized through our industrial relationship with SeeByte Ltd. We have also worked on wideband bio-sonar techniques with the Office of Naval Research for a number of years (NICOP) and have been involved with the Systems Engineering and Autonomous Systems Defense technology centre (SEAS-DTC) as the only underwater robotics partner, demonstrating collaborative planning, distributed world-modeling and distributed navigation solutions in real environments on real platforms. We are also active in training young researchers in autonomous techniques by co-organising a yearly student autonomous underwater competition at European level for the last 4 years under sponsorship from the UK funding council EPSRC and the Ministry of Defenses of France and the UK.
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