Heriot-Watt Ocean Systems Lab


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.

  • Sensor modeling and analysis

    In Sensor modeling and analysis, novel navigation algorithms have been developed sharing information from multiple sensors. 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.

  • 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 and vehicles enable us to validate the theory and simulation findings in real experiments.

Read more …


The Oceans Systems Laboratory is a leading centre of excellence in underwater robotics and underwater signal & image processing. We are part of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Electrical Electronics and Computer Engineering Group. The EECE group offers a large range of world leading degrees that are available on their Teaching Pages. We specialise in robotics and vision and have developed a unique collaboration with Universitat de Girona and Universite de Bourgogne to deliver a specialist 2 years course in Vision on Robotics VIBOT. We also offer a specialist 1 year course in Vision Signal and Image Processing VISP.

Read more …

International Collaborations

Spanning the globe while developing remarkable technology platforms, Ocean Systems Lab has an extensive record of collaborative work with the U.K. and at an international level. Throughout the 1990s, OSL participated in several notable projects such as the EU-funded AMADEUS-I AND AMADEUS-II projects with the goal of developing dextrous arms for underwater manipulation. The EU-funded project ARAMIS (1997-2000) had us developing obstacle avoidance and automatic video analysis algorithms, while the EU-funded project, ALIVE (2000-2003) and AUTOTRACKER (2000-2003) had us tackling autonomous docking and pipeline inspection. The AMASON (2001-2004) project projects were dedicated to the development of sensor fusion techniques.

Through strategic collaboration with SeeByte, a world-renowned company developed in 2001 to bring to market technologies designed at Ocean Systems Lab, the outcomes of AutoTracker and Amason have been successfully commercialized.

By continuing to have strong ties with industry, the Ocean Systems Lab has carried on its reputation for global excellence spanning a multitude of sectors.

We have also worked on bio-sonar techniques with the Office of Naval Research for a number of years (NICOP), as well as 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 active in training young researchers in autonomous techniques by co-organising a yearly student autonomous underwater competition at a European level for the last four years under sponsorship from the U.K. funding council EPSRC and the Ministry of Defenses of France and the U.K.