Posted by: adorsk | May 7, 2008

Robot Redux

Just a quick entry for this week.

I got back from the SENTRY cruise. Good weather for us, but tough times for the robot, SENTRY.

The goal of this cruise was to use the robot to make high-resoution maps of the continental shelf. We took the robot off the coast of New Jersey, and dumped it in. Unfortunately the robot wasn’t able to complete its mission.

It’s important to know that Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are very complex. There are so many unexpected things which can happen and which have to be planned for in the robot’s control systems. What should the robot do if it bumps into a rock wall? what should it do if it can hear the ship? The robot designers have to work all these things out ahead of time. Sometimes unexpected traps don’t show up until the middle of a cruise.

The SENTRY scientists and engineers hit a few these of traps. One of the robot’s sensors that came from a third-party company didn’t have a water-tight seal. There were a few bugs in the control programming. And the robot took a few bumps when it was going on and off the ship.

Fortunately, the cruise was still useful for the science party. Now they know what things they need to fix, and what kinds of problems they can expect. This is why it’s important to test at sea.

i didn’t shoot much this cruise, but here are a few shots.

The science gang watching the robot’s movement on the computer:

Tracking the Robot

SENTRY going over the side:

SENTRY Deployment

Thanks for reading.


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