The first fully autonomous underwater manipulation in an unstructured environment was demonstrated at the Snug Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii on January 20, 2010. An underwater robot, SAUVIM (Semi-Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Intervention Missions), performed autonomous navigation and manipulation. This demonstration presented a technological breakthrough in the field as autonomous manipulation had been a bottleneck issue for underwater intervention missions. Witnesses of this live demonstration included representatives from the Federal and State Governments, the University of Hawaii, private companies, the U.S. military as well as foreign scholars.
Submerged in the water, SAUVIM first performed the self-calibration routine, initializing its sub-systems. After the calibration step, SAUVIM began its pre-given mission-- to search for and tag an underwater object. The object’s location was roughly given. Once the vehicle reached the area surrounding the object, it started scanning the area using a DIDSON camera to locate and identify the target. Once the object was detected, the vehicle approached it and positioned itself for optimized manipulation. Then, while the vehicle was floating in the water column, using the unified coordinated motion control of the vehicle and manipulator system, the vehicle performed an autonomous manipulation task by applying a device to the object for tagging.
After completing the mission, the vehicle came back to the dock by using feature-based navigation. The whole sequence was autonomously done and the same mission was successfully repeated four times. More information and some video clips about SAUVIM and the demonstration details could be found at http://www.eng.hawaii.edu/~asl/Sauvim/Mission.html .
This underwater robot, SAUVIM was developed by the Autonomous Systems Laboratory of the University of Hawaii and its spin-off company, MASE, Inc. with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). SAUVIM also includes some initial research work partly funded by the National Science Foundation. The SAUVIM research team members at the site included J. Yuh, Song K. Choi, Giacomo Marani, Aaron M Hanai, and Kaikala H Rosa.
Dr. G. Marani
Dr. J. Yuh
Dr. S. K. Choi