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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
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Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(20), 7124; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207124
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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