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Sensors 2016, 16(8), 1174;

Autonomous Underwater Navigation and Optical Mapping in Unknown Natural Environments

Underwater Vision and Robotics Research Center (CIRS), Computer Vision and Robotics Institute (VICOROB), University of Girona, C\Pic de Peguera, 13 (La Creueta), 17003 Girona, Spain
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: João Valente and Antonio Barrientos
Received: 3 June 2016 / Revised: 12 July 2016 / Accepted: 14 July 2016 / Published: 26 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotic Sensory Systems for Environment Protection and Conservation)
Full-Text   |   PDF [49651 KB, uploaded 26 July 2016]   |  


We present an approach for navigating in unknown environments while, simultaneously, gathering information for inspecting underwater structures using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). To accomplish this, we first use our pipeline for mapping and planning collision-free paths online, which endows an AUV with the capability to autonomously acquire optical data in close proximity. With that information, we then propose a reconstruction pipeline to create a photo-realistic textured 3D model of the inspected area. These 3D models are also of particular interest to other fields of study in marine sciences, since they can serve as base maps for environmental monitoring, thus allowing change detection of biological communities and their environment over time. Finally, we evaluate our approach using the Sparus II, a torpedo-shaped AUV, conducting inspection missions in a challenging, real-world and natural scenario. View Full-Text
Keywords: underwater; path planning; mapping; 3D reconstruction; ecology underwater; path planning; mapping; 3D reconstruction; ecology

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: 3D reconstruction created using optical data acquired by an SPARUS II AUV during an autonomous mission in an unknown environment as presented in the paper.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hernández, J.D.; Istenič, K.; Gracias, N.; Palomeras, N.; Campos, R.; Vidal, E.; García, R.; Carreras, M. Autonomous Underwater Navigation and Optical Mapping in Unknown Natural Environments. Sensors 2016, 16, 1174.

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