Autonomous underwater vehicles

In order to fulfill Canada’s agreed contribution to participate in allied nations AUV (autonomous underwater vehicles) technical evaluation trials as part of a multi-nation effort, Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) was challenged with the crucial task of developing a highly versatile common mission planner capable of interfacing with all the AUVs comprising the fleet.

Increasingly developed for deep-ocean exploration, naval-mine counter measures, Arctic under ice exploration, and underwater surveying, AUVs are unmanned vehicles capable of performing complex tasks underwater without human intervention.  Since AUVs are built with differing end purpose needs and stocked with various computerized operating systems, DRDC Canada has worked closely with LR’s Applied Technology Group (ATG) to develop this universal integrated platform for mission planning and execution focusing on two groups of projects. 

The first task was developing a universal mission planner capable of interfacing with different vehicle types.  Our team developed a series of plugins aimed at enhancing the mission operations and integrating the various fleet AUVs.  Two plugins were developed to create and plan detailed missions that are both viewable and editable, and then translate into specific formats readable by the AUVs' control system.   A plugin was then developed for integrating a path planning optimization tool.  We also developed an integrated assets position tracking system into DRDC software.

The second group of contracts developed algorithms capable of directly controlling AUV operations such as obstacle avoidance or traversing to a given waypoint, known as behaviours, and methods that monitor or process information that affects the AUV's perception of itself and the world around it, known as functions.  An example of this is a function that monitors how near the AUV is to the seabed or what its current on-board power usage is.  

These bespoke software modules were integrated into DRDC’s operating systems across the entire fleet allowing Canada to fulfill our international agreed contribution to participate in allied nations AUV technical evaluation trials as part of a multi-nation effort.