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Open AccessArticle

Development of Visual Servoing-Based Autonomous Docking Capabilities in a Heterogeneous Swarm of Marine Robots

LABUST—Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, University of Zagreb, Unska 3, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(20), 7124;
Received: 18 September 2020 / Revised: 1 October 2020 / Accepted: 2 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underwater Robots in Ocean and Coastal Applications)
This paper describes the design, development, and testing of both hardware and software for a visual servoing-based system that enables agents within a heterogeneous marine robotic swarm to share energy. The goal of this system is prolonging the active operational time of the swarm as a whole, allowing it to perform long-term environmental monitoring and data collection missions. The implementation presented in the paper features an over-actuated autonomous surface platform docking up to four floating sensor nodes at a time and replenishing their batteries using wireless inductive charging. Mechanical solutions for each robot segment related to the docking procedure are presented, along with pertinent high-level and low-level control structures. A node featuring an extended Kalman filter and additional heuristics is used to fuse measurements from a neural network trained for object detection and a hue thresholding image processing algorithm, in order to track the docking target and achieve visual servoing. Finally, experimental results in both a controlled environment and challenging conditions on-site are presented. Once deployed, the developed system successfully enables the approach and docking of the designated target, showing its feasibility in different real-life conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: marine robotics; multi-vehicle system; visual servoing; energy sharing marine robotics; multi-vehicle system; visual servoing; energy sharing
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Babić, A.; Mandić, F.; Mišković, N. Development of Visual Servoing-Based Autonomous Docking Capabilities in a Heterogeneous Swarm of Marine Robots. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 7124.

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