The Autonomous Systems team is responsible for designing and implementing functionality for navigating the drones autonomously. This includes using data from sensors such as GNSS, UGPS, DVL and IMU to get reliable estimates for the drones’ position and orientation. In addition, the team is tasked with developing mission planning schemes to complete tasks in a robust manner during competitions.
What Autonomous Systems is working on this year
This year, the members on autonomous systems have mostly been working on how to solve tasks in the competitions TAC and Njord – The Autonomous Ship Challenge, as well as developing a dynamic positioning (DP) controller for the AUV. Solving a task includes going through an iterative process where an idea on how the drones should perform the task is formed. Later it’s potential is being tested and feedback is given so that the idea can be improved, or sometimes a whole new idea has to be developed.
Some of the tasks in the competitions this year are:
- For the ASV: avoid colliding with other vessels on the ocean while not violating the COLREG rules and correctly navigate the ASV from a point A to a point B based on sea markers along the way.
- For the AUV: docking at a charging station and navigating along a pipeline while inspecting it.
Solving the competition tasks involves a lot of problem-solving thinking to find high-level solutions, as well as investigating which tools should be used to achieve the desired behaviour of the drones. To define the drones’ behaviours, the group often end up using state machines. Another important part is communicating with the perception team. This because defining what kind of information, as well as the format of the information, is crucial for the overall performance when the drones are executing tasks in competitions.
The DP controller makes it possible for the drone to maintain a given orientation or position, and is therefore essential when it comes to robust execution of the tasks in TAC. To be able to implement this type of controller, the members had to research control theory.
Thoughts about being a member of Autonomous Systems
It is exciting to be a part of a larger project where you are able to work on a physical product, and learn about, among other things, high-tech sensors.
You learn things that are directly relevant for what you can work with when you finish studying. It is great getting to know other people with similar interests, which frequently results in casual tech talks at the office.
It can be challenging sometimes, because you have to research a lot of new theory, but at the same time this makes it easier when you are going to learn some of the same theory later on in your studies.
Goals for this year:
The main goal for the semester is to provide robust software to ensure that the drones are able to give good results when participating in the competitions. This also including thoroughly documenting the work done by the team so that future team members can understand how it all works.