Special Issue "New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Computing and Artificial Intelligence".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. José-Fernán Martínez-Ortega
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Telematics and Electronic Engineering, ETSIS de Telecomunicación, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
Interests: autonomy and cooperation; ubiquitous computing and internet of things (IoT); cyber physical systems (CPS); underwater; ground and aerial cooperating robots; embedded systems; distributed systems and software architectures; next-generation telematics networks and services
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Pedro Castillejo Parrilla
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Group of Next-Generation Networks and Services – GryS, ETSIS de Telecomunicación, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
Interests: cyber physical systems (CPS); Internet of things (IoT); middleware solutions; security; privacy; ubiquitous computing; blockchain applications.
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today, a significant number of offshore operations include intervention of divers in hazardous environments, representing an overdependence for the development of the maritime industry. Unmanned underwater vehicles could represent a solution, but they are tailor-made for specific task and difficult to operate, being this in many case extremely expansive. In addition, the operation complexity could not be carried out for a single vehicle even with some help.

To expand the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs), remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to facilitate the creation, planning and execution of maritime and offshore operations by having a swarms of those vehicles cooperating each other in an intelligent way, thereby making autonomous operations a viable option for new and existing industries. This will reduce the operational cost, increase the safety of tasks and contribute to expand the offshore sector. This approach comes with many technological challenges that are yet to be solved.

This Special Issue focuses on novel and innovative solutions for swarms cooperative robot systems in underwater environments. To this purpose, high-quality contributions from both academia and industry are welcome.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Distributed platform and architectures for integrating and coordinating underwater robotics vehicles: data modelling and context awareness, IoT middleware solutions.
  • Solutions for sensors and processing algorithms for underwater environments: data processing, 3D mapping, landmark extraction, map matching, relocation.
  • Solutions for underwater communication systems: advanced networking, integrated over and underwater communications, high speed underwater communication, integration of heterogeneous underwater communication systems.
  • Design and development of embedded architecture and mission management solutions: mission management (planning, re-planning, monitoring, etc.), software architecture and its evaluation over simulated, experimental or real scenarios.
  • Autonomous navigation and semi-autonomous manipulation: simulation tool for underwater vehicles, motion planning, hybrid acoustic and radio frequency communication and control for homing applications.
  • Development methodologies and novel designs for autonomous maritime missions including HMI designs, data formatting and transfer challenges.

Prof. Dr. José-Fernán Martínez
Dr. Pedro Castillejo Parrilla
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Survey of Mission Planning and Management Architectures for Underwater Cooperative Robotics Operations
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(3), 1086; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10031086 - 06 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
Almost every research project that focuses on the cooperation of autonomous robots for underwater operations designs their own architectures. As a result, most of these architectures are tightly coupled with the available robots/vehicles for their respective developments, and therefore the mission plan and [...] Read more.
Almost every research project that focuses on the cooperation of autonomous robots for underwater operations designs their own architectures. As a result, most of these architectures are tightly coupled with the available robots/vehicles for their respective developments, and therefore the mission plan and management is done using an ad-hoc solution. Typically, this solution is tightly coupled to just one underwater autonomous vehicle (AUV), or a restricted set of them selected for the specific project. However, as the use of AUVs for underwater operations increases, there is the need to identify some commonalities and weaknesses of these architectures, specifically in relation to mission planning and management. In this paper, we review a selected number of architectures and frameworks that in one way or another make use of different approaches to mission planning and management. Most of the selected works were developed for underwater operations. Still, we have included some other architectures and frameworks from other domains that can be of interest for the survey. The explored works have been assessed using selected features related to mission planning and management, considering that underwater operations are performed in an uncertain and unreliable environment, and where unexpected events are not strange. Furthermore, we have identified and highlighted some potential challenges for the design and implementation of mission managers. This provides a reference point for the development of a mission manager component to be integrated in architectures for cooperative robotics in underwater operations, and it can serve for the same purposes in other domains of application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Proposal of an Automated Mission Manager for Cooperative Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(3), 855; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10030855 - 25 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1048
Abstract
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for ocean interventions. Typical operations imply the pre-loading of a pre-generated mission plan into the AUV before being launched. Once deployed, the AUV waits for a [...] Read more.
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for ocean interventions. Typical operations imply the pre-loading of a pre-generated mission plan into the AUV before being launched. Once deployed, the AUV waits for a start command to begin the execution of the plan. An onboard mission manager is responsible for handling the events that may prevent the AUV from following the plan. This approach considers the management of the mission only at the vehicle level. However, the use of a mission-level manager in coordination with the onboard mission manager could improve the handling of exogenous events that cannot be handled fully at the vehicle level. Moreover, the use of vehicle virtualization by the mission-level manager can ease the use of older AUVs. In this paper, we propose a new mission-level manager to be run at a control station. The proposed mission manager, named Missions and Task Register and Reporter (MTRR), follows a decentralized hierarchical control pattern for self-adaptive systems, and provides a basic virtualization in regard to the AUV’s planning capabilities. The MTRR has been validated as part of the SWARMs European project. During the final trials we assessed its effectiveness and measured its performance. As a result, we have identified a strong correlation between the length of mission plan and the time required to start a mission ( ρ s = 0.79 ,   n = 45 ,   p 0.001 ). We have also identified a possible bottleneck when accessing the repositories for storing the information from the mission. Specifically, the average time for storing the received state vectors in the relational database represented only 18.50% of the average time required for doing so in the semantic repository. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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Open AccessArticle
Underwater Wireless Communications for Cooperative Robotics with UWSim-NET
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(17), 3526; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9173526 - 28 Aug 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1576
Abstract
The increasing number of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) cooperating in underwater operations has motivated the use of wireless communications. Their modeling can minimize the impact of their limited performance in real-time robotic interventions. However, robotic frameworks hardly ever consider the communications, and network [...] Read more.
The increasing number of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) cooperating in underwater operations has motivated the use of wireless communications. Their modeling can minimize the impact of their limited performance in real-time robotic interventions. However, robotic frameworks hardly ever consider the communications, and network simulators are not suitable for HIL experiments. In this work, the UWSim-NET is presented, an open source tool to simulate the impact of communications in underwater robotics. It gathers the benefits of NS3 in modeling communication networks with those of the underwater robot simulator (UWSim) and the robot operating system (ROS) in modeling robotic systems. This article also shows the results of three experiments that demonstrate the capabilities of UWSim-NET in modeling radio frequency (RF) and acoustic links in underwater scenarios. It also permits evaluating several MAC protocols such as additive links online Hawaii area (ALOHA), slotted floor acquisition multiple access (S-FAMA) and user defined protocols. A third experiment demonstrated the excellent capabilities of UWSim-NET in conducting hardware in the loop (HIL) experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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Open AccessArticle
A Heterogeneous Robotic Swarm for Long-Term Monitoring of Marine Environments
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(7), 1388; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9071388 - 02 Apr 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1348
Abstract
This paper describes an underwater acoustic sensor network consisting of a heterogeneous robotic swarm used for long-term monitoring of underwater environments. The swarm consists of a large number of underwater robots acting as sensor nodes with limited movement capabilities, and a few surface [...] Read more.
This paper describes an underwater acoustic sensor network consisting of a heterogeneous robotic swarm used for long-term monitoring of underwater environments. The swarm consists of a large number of underwater robots acting as sensor nodes with limited movement capabilities, and a few surface robots aiding them in accomplishing underwater monitoring scenarios. Main interactions between two types of robots include underwater sensor deployment and relocation, energy and data exchange, and acoustic localisation aiding. Hardware capabilities of each vehicle are described in detail. Inter-agent communication is split into two layers: surface and underwater communication. Surface communication utilises wireless communication using WiFi routers configured for decentralised routing. Underwater communication mainly uses acoustic communication which, when used within a large swarm, poses a challenging task because of high probability of interference and data loss. The acoustic communication protocol used to prevent these issues is presented in detail. Finally, more complex functionalities of the robotic swarm are presented, including several results from real-life experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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Open AccessArticle
Simulation Models for Offshore Port Service Concepts
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(3), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9030584 - 11 Feb 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 984
Abstract
Offshore port service concepts were developed to flexibly respond to the emergence of large container ships and the increase in port trade volume. As one such offshore service concept, a mobile harbor system has recently been proposed. Although it is possible to effectively [...] Read more.
Offshore port service concepts were developed to flexibly respond to the emergence of large container ships and the increase in port trade volume. As one such offshore service concept, a mobile harbor system has recently been proposed. Although it is possible to effectively increase the capacity of existing ports through these mobile harbor systems, the methodology for evaluating the performance of a traditional port is limited when applied to evaluating the performance of the mobile harbor system. In this study, we develop a simulation model to analyze the mobile harbor system. The simulation model reflects the operating characteristics of the mobile harbor, and the performance metric of the system can be derived from the model. The results can be applied to capacity planning of a port system with a method that reduces search space. We applied our method to the Surabaya port in Indonesia to derive the optimal mobile harbor design that satisfies the required service level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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Open AccessArticle
A Collaborative Human-Robot Framework for Visual Topological Mapping of Coral Reefs
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(2), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9020261 - 12 Jan 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1086
Abstract
One of the most important tasks when creating a map of visual information obtained from different agents is finding common locations between the sets of images that enable them to be fused into a single representation. Typical approaches focus on images obtained from [...] Read more.
One of the most important tasks when creating a map of visual information obtained from different agents is finding common locations between the sets of images that enable them to be fused into a single representation. Typical approaches focus on images obtained from the same agent. However, in this paper, we focus on recognizing the same places in images captured by different agents to create a topological map of coral reefs. The main components of the proposed method are the voting scheme to find a sparse similarity matrix between different frames and an effective method to match sequences of images exploiting the sparsity of the resulting similarity matrix. We have applied our method to sequences of images obtained from coral reef explorations performed by different agents. The presented method shows a good performance compared to other well-established methods such as FABMAP. This demonstrates its ability to find common locations from visual information gathered from different sources, which eases the collaboration between humans and robots to map the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Solutions for Robotic Swarms in Sea Operations)
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