Monthly archive - February 2012

New! – HWU Ocean Systems Lab YouTube Channel

Heriot Watt’s Ocean Systems Lab has uploaded demonstrations of vehicles, robots and projects run from within the laboratory over the last twenty years. World firsts include soft dextrous underwater actuators, autonomous docking and intervention with vehicles and manipulators, autonomous pipeline and riser inspection, collaborating vehicles in service oriented architectures with goal based mission planning, student competition vehicles and more. You can follow these achievements here.

Ocean System Lab’s Cartesian Robot

This is one of our local testing assets at Heriot-Watt. It is a 3m by 2m pool, 2m deep, with a Cartesian robot suspended above. We will be using this asset to generate some training data for our vision/sonar inspection tasks. The robot allows us to precisely position sensors in the water, providing us with positional ground truth for testing localisation algorithms. The pool is clearly not large enough to run missions in, but it is also very useful to have a test tank to move our robot, NESSIE V, about in, before we undertake serious missions away from University.

We are currently making the robot compatible with ROS, so that the same software that moves the real AUV, can be used to control the Cartesian’s position (although the Cartesian robot is only 3DOF verses the AUV’s 5DOF).



The AUV has been designed und build at the University of Girona (Spain) by the research group ViCOROB. The GIRONA 500 is a compact and lightweight AUV with hoovering capabilities which can fulfill the particular needs of any application by means of specific payloads and a reconfigurable propulsion system.

GIRONA 500 AUV will be used in Pandora to carry out two of the three demonstrations scheduled in the project. For the first demonstration, a water jet will be attached to GIRONA 500 to clean the chain of an anchor. In the second demonstration a manipulator will be connected to GIRONA 500 to turn the valves of an underwater panel.

The GIRONA 500 is a reconfigurable autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) designed for a maximum operating depth of up to 500 m. The vehicle is composed of an aluminum frame which supports three torpedo-shaped hulls of 0.3 m in diameter and 1.5 m in length as well as other elements like the thrusters. This design offers a good hydrodynamic performance and a large space for housing the equipments while maintaining a compact size which allows operating the vehicle from small boats. The overall dimensions of the vehicle are 1 m in height, 1 m in width, 1.5 m in length and a weight of less than 200 Kg. The two upper hulls, which contain the flotation foam and the electronics housing, are positively buoyant, while the lower one contains the more heavy elements such as the batteries and the payload. This particular arrangement of the components separates the centre of gravity from the centre of buoyancy by about 11 cm, which is significantly more than found in a typical torpedo shape design. This provides the vehicle with passive stability in pitch and roll, making it suitable for tasks that will benefit from a steady platform such as interventions or imaging surveys.

The most remarkable characteristic of the GIRONA 500 is its capacity to reconfigure for different tasks. In its standard configuration, the vehicle is equipped with typical navigation sensors (DVL, AHRS, pressure gauge and USBL) and basic survey equipment (profiler sonar, side scan sonar, video camera and sound velocity sensor). In addition to these sensors, almost half the volume of the lower hull is reserved for payload equipment that can be configured according to the requirements of a particular mission. The electric arm is the first payload developed for the GIRONA 500. The same philosophy has been applied to the propulsion system, which is also reconfigurable. The basic layout has 4 thrusters, two vertical to actuate the heave and pitch and two horizontal for the yaw and surge. However, it is possible to reconfigure the vehicle to operate with only 3 thrusters (one vertical and two horizontal) and with up to 8 thrusters to control all the degrees of freedom.