Chair of Information and Coding Theory

An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Education and Research Platform

In this innovative student project, an AUV swarm is currently being developed and implemented. The AUVs simultaneously serve as an education platform as well as a research platform. The project supports learning by doing, which is an important recipe particularly in engineering.

AUVs are unmanned and characterized by

  • an on-board power supply,
  • on-board sensors and processing units,
  • autonomous navigation skills.

In contrast to remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are also unmanned, AUVs are not supported by a cable. Hovering AUVs are designed for maneuverability, whereas torpedo-like or fish-like shapes are typical hull designs for larger distances.

Among the main applications of civil AUVs are oceanographic survey (including seabed mapping and resource exploration), marine sciences (including marine observation), inspection tasks (including pipelines and ship hulls), and environmental monitoring.

When employing a swarm of AUVs, swarm intelligence can be exploited. Swarm intelligence is useful for communication purposes, localization, and sophisticated applications. Due to the huge path loss encountered in sonar and radio-wave transmission, high-speed communication is difficult in sea water given a peer-to-peer scenario. Having a swarm of AUVs, however, intermediate AUVs may serve as relays. Swarm navigation is capable to enhance the difficult task of 3D positioning in unknown terrain. Furthermore, many applications can more efficiently being solved if a swarm is available.

As an education platform, this interdisciplinary project joins students from different disciplines (particularly electrical engineering, computer sciences, management), with distinct levels (bachelor and master), skills and experience. Soft skills like creativity, multi-cultural teamworking, problem-oriented working, communication and presentation skills, team-organization and student-based project management are supported. Most students are highly motivated, and develop and implement own solutions.

As a research platform, our long-term theoretical experience in digital communications, applied information theory, signal processing, sonar processing, localization, as well as software-defined radio and cognitive radio can be realized and tested in a harsh environment. Particular emphasis is on exploiting swarm intelligence.

This project is supported by PerLe, a fund for supporting excellence in teaching at the University of Kiel.

In August, a press release with the title "Alleskönner unter Wasser" was issued concearning the cSwarm project in relation to the PerLe project.