Publication Detail

Touch-at-a-Distance: Pressure Microsensor Arrays for AUV Navigation

Jeffrey Lang, Franz Hover, Michael Triantafyllou
12 pp.
MITSG 09-31
$5.50 DOM / $7.50 INT

Inspired by the lateral-line organ in fish, the ultimate objective of this project continues to be the development of a passive system for AUVs that can detect, classify and locate underwater objects. The lateral line sensory organ in fish enables some species to form three-dimensional maps of their surroundings. The canal subsystem of that organ acts as an array of pressure sensors. Interpreting spatial pressure gradients allows fish to perform a variety of actions from schooling, to tracking prey, to recognizing nearby objects. Similarly, by measuring pressure variations on a vehicle surface, an engineered dense pressure-sensor array could enable the identification and location of obstacles during navigation. Our navigation system is based upon two key technologies: (1) large arrays of very small pressure sensors that can be mounted on the surface of an AUV, and (2) the pressure signal processing algorithms through which object detection, classification and location is implemented. Correspondingly, this project is organized during its early years around the development of these two key technologies.
The development of a passive system to detect, classify and locate underwater objects will benefit AUVs that navigate cluttered environments and surf zones. Of particular importance here is the expected low power consumption of a passive system. More generally, the marine industry, especially the ROV and AUV industry, will benefit from the pressure sensing system by having available detailed flow maps derived through the pressure measurements. These maps could facilitate the optimized maneuvering and handling of turbulent flows, as well as the development of morphing procedures to reduce drag and optimize agility. Other marine industries are expected to benefit as well. For example, the oil industry could use the sensor arrays in pipelines to sense and control flow, and competitive sailing teams could use the sensor arrays to guide sail arrangements to optimize lift production, particularly during maneuvering.

type: Technical reports

Parent Project

Project No.: 2006-R/RT-2/RCM-17
Title: Touch-at-a-Distance: Pressure Microsensor Arrays for AUV Navigation