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Synthetic Collective Unmanned Underwater Laboratory (SCUUL)


Principal Investigator

D.A. Paley


Department of Defense, Test Resource Management Center, Test and Evaluation/Science and Technology Program


Autonomous robots, underwater vehicles, bio-inspired control, collective behavior


Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) provide a robust, autonomous platform for a wide array of sensing applications in the undersea and sea surface domains. For example, underwater gliders (a low-speed, high-endurance UUV) collect temperature, salinity, and current data critical to sonar performance prediction for Navy Anti-submarine Warfare. UUV environment assessments also improve the efficacy of Air Force-led Search and Rescue. High-speed UUVs conduct high-accuracy and high-resolution sonar surveys in support of Mine Warfare. In these and other applications, cooperative behavior of multiple UUVs elevates collective performance through intelligent, adaptive allocation of sensing, navigation, and communication resources. The implementation of cooperative behavior in a UUV fleet faces unique challenges presented by the dynamic ocean environment, including strong and variable ocean currents and surface winds, spatially-limited and time-varying communication, and remote and/or harsh operating conditions. These challenges, combined with the cost of conducting field trials, have limited the opportunities to validate cooperative algorithms in an operational setting. The proposed technology development seeks to address test and evaluation gaps in this area by using model-based simulation and prototype testing to evaluate cooperative UUV performance in a dynamic underwater environment. The Synthetic Collective Unmanned Underwater Laboratory (SCUUL) is a modeling, simulation, and prototyped framework for cooperative UUV behavior.


Apply research in collective motion and cooperative behavior: We apply dynamical systems theory to design reduced-order models of cooperative UUV navigation, sampling, performance, and control. UUV technologies include operations in remote, inaccessible, and dynamic environments; autonomous trajectory generation, tracking, and coordination; and adaptive, intelligent cooperative sampling. Project activities address specific test and evaluation needs including modeling of cooperative UUV navigation in high currents and surface winds; modeling the impact of communication limitations on cooperative UUV sampling; and developing measures of performance and effectiveness for cooperative UUV sampling. During this project, we will integrate an underwater motion-capture system with a multi-vehicle testbed. The motion-capture system provides a sensing capability critical to UUV performance assessment.

Overview of Project

  1. Development of a reduced-order modeling and control framework for cooperative UUV navigation and environmental sampling
  2. Numerical simulation of closed-loop performance of UUV motion coordination algorithm in a dynamic environment
  3. Creation of multi-vehicle micro-UUV testbed with integrated motion-capture tracking system for motion coordination test and evaluation


For additional information please contact:
Dr. Derek A. Paley
Department of Aerospace Engineering
3150 Martin Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD-20742
Phone: 301-405-5757


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