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The Underwater Systems Program at the Porto University. Nuno Alexandre Cruz FEUP-DEEC Rua Dr. Roberto Frias 4200-465 Porto, Portugal Laboratório de Sistemas e Tecnologia Subaquática Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto

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The underwater systems program at the porto university

The Underwater Systems Program at the Porto University

Nuno Alexandre Cruz


Rua Dr. Roberto Frias

4200-465 Porto, Portugal

Laboratório de Sistemas e Tecnologia Subaquática

Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto



  • The Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory

  • Vehicles

    • Autonomous underwater vehicles

    • Remotely operated vehicle

  • Systems and technology

    • Embedded computer systems

    • Navigation systems

  • Advanced mission concepts

  • Conclusion

The underwater systems and technology laboratory

The Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory

  • Mission

    Design innovative solutions for oceanographic and environmental applications

  • People

    4 Faculty staff

    10 researchers

  • Vehicles

    Autonomous submarines

    Remotely operated submarine

  • Technologies

    Navigation and control

    Acoustic networks

    Networked control systems

    Power/computer systems

  • Applications

    Monitoring sea outfalls

    Coastal oceanography

    Underwater archaeology

    Inspection and intervention

SUMARE Workshop, Villefranche-sur-Mer, 15-16 October 2003

Artwork Courtesy of Michael Incze, NUWC



Administração dos Portos do Douro e Leixões

Centro de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental

Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto

Instituto Hidrográfico


University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA, USA

Naval Postgraduate School, CA, USA




Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Isurus auv 1997


Length: 1.8m

Diameter: 20 cm

Weight in air: 35 kg

Max speed: 2 m/s

Max range: 100 km

Payload sensors

Sidescan Sonar


Echo sounder

Optical backscatter

(Video camera)

Isurus AUV (1997)

Customization at lsts

Customization at LSTS

  • Computational system

  • On-board software

  • Mission programming

  • Integrated navigation system

  • Power supply and power management

  • Actuation system

Operating the isurus auv

Operating the Isurus AUV

Mission Support System

Small boat


Acoustic navigation network

Operational Procedures

  • Acoustic network setup

  • Mission programming

  • Vehicle launching

  • ...

  • Vehicle recovery

  • Data download and processing

New generation auv 2003

New Generation AUV (2003)

Main features

Low cost

Carbon fiber hull

Modular sensor adapters

Payload: 8 kg

Depth rating: 150 m

Autonomy: 20 hours +

2 vert. & 2 horiz. fins

1 propeller

Isurus missions

Isurus Missions


Oceanographic data collection

Environmental monitoring

Estuary of minho river 1998

Estuary of Minho River (1998+)

  • Width: 1-2 km

  • Depth: 2-5 m

  • Currents: over 1m/s

  • Mission Profile

    • NW-SE cross sections, 50 m apart

    • Section length: 700-1200 m

    • Tracks repeated for various depths

    • Data collected:

      • Temperature and Salinity (CTD)

      • Bathymetry (CTD & Echosounder)

Estuary of minho river results


Depth (m)

North (m)

East (m)

Estuary of Minho River – Results

Estuary of minho river results1

Temperature and Salinity (@1m depth)

North (m)

North (m)

East (m)

East (m)

Estuary of Minho River – Results

Tapada do outeiro 2000

Tapada Do Outeiro (2000+)

Mission Objectives

  • Study the impact of discharges from thermoelectric power plant

  • Assess the erosion of the river bed

    Mission Data

  • Temperature

  • Bathymetry profiles

Aveiro sea outfall 2002

Aveiro Sea Outfall (2002+)

Mission Objectives

  • Evaluation of environmental impact of sewage outfall

  • Find and map the plume

    Mission Scenario

  • Open sea

  • 2 km off the coast of Aveiro

  • 20 m of depth

Aveiro sea outfall planning

Aveiro Sea Outfall – Planning

Mission Planning

  • Reference data collection

  • Simulation of plume behavior

  • Delimitation of mission area

  • Mission programming

    Mission Data

  • Temperature

  • Salinity

  • Optical Backscatter

Aveiro sea outfall operations

Aveiro Sea Outfall - Operations

Aveiro sea outfall results




Aveiro Sea Outfall - Results

Temperature and Salinity




Aveiro sea outfall lessons

Aveiro Sea Outfall – Lessons

  • Launching an AUV at open sea is hard

  • Recovering an AUV from open sea is VERY hard

  • Murphy is ALWAYS watching

  • Safety measures are never too many

Wave Height at Leixões

2002-07-26 to 2002-08-02





Remotely Operated Vehicle

The ies project 1999 2002

The IES Project (1999-2002)

  • Objectives

    • Develop an automated system for the inspection of underwater structures

    • Provide non-trained operators with autonomous and semi-autonomous operation modes

  • Strategy

    • Acquire a customized version of a commercial ROV

    • Integrate on-board computational system

    • Install navigation and inspection sensors

    • Implement a set of automated maneuvers

Original rov 2000

Original ROV (2000)

Customized Vehicle

  • Phantom 500 S (Deep Ocean Engineering)

  • Electronics compartment

  • Enlarged frame

  • Increased flotation

  • Extra motor power(4 * 1/8 hp)

Rov hardware project

ROV Hardware Project


















Pan & Tilt




Rov hardware development

ROV Hardware Development

Main container

  • Computational system

  • Navigation system

  • Interface devices

  • Power distribution

    Small containers

  • Power distribution

  • Power management

  • Motor control

  • Interface devices

Current rov configuration

Current ROV Configuration

  • Inspection system

    • Camera: Inspector (ROS)

    • Pan and Tilt unit (Imenco)

    • Lights: up to 600W (DSP&L)

    • Forward looking sonar (Imagenex)

  • Navigation

    • DVL: Argonaut (Sontek)

    • IMU: HG1700 (Honeywell)

    • Digital Compass: TCM2 (PNI)

    • Depth sensor, 730+ (PSI)

    • Acoustic Tx/Rx: 20-30 KHz

  • Computational system

    • PC/104 stack, Pentium PC

    • QNX RTOS

    • Ethernet

Power supply

Junction box



Spare kit

Rov modes of operation

ROV Modes of Operation

Modes of operation

2.Teleprogramming:Pre-programmed maneuvers

1.Teleoperation:Direct commands using a joystick

Maneuver Parameters


Real-time video







Internal State

Rov operations at apdl

ROV Operations at APDL

  • Objectives

    • Detect corrosion in steel plates protecting walls

    • Register video footage with localization data

    • Tag features for diver intervention or latter reinspection

Inspected Structures

Rov operations at apdl1

ROV Operations at APDL

  • Main Difficulties

    • Reduced visibility (<0.5m)

    • Boundary perturbations

    • Cable dynamics

  • Solutions

    • High sensitivity camera

    • Variable illumination

    • Multiple sensor fusion for navigation and control

    • Navigation info at the console

Systems and technologies

Systems and Technologies

Embedded computational systems

Based on PC/104 technology

Small form-factor

Plenty of COTS vendors and solutions

Low-cost boards

Software applications and drivers developed for RTOS

Several systems in operation

Underwater vehicles (AUV/ROV)

Automated trucks and busses

Embedded Computational Systems

Navigation systems

Navigation Systems

  • Internal devices

    • Digital compasses

    • Doppler velocimeters

    • Inertial systems

    • Pressure sensors (depth)

    • Acoustic Tx/Rx boards

  • Algorithms

    • LBL navigation

    • Sensor fusion (Kalman filter)

    • Post-mission trajectory smoothing

    • External tracking

  • Navigation networks

    • Acoustic beacons

    • Surface buoys




(not to scale)

Vehicle navigation

Vehicle Navigation

  • Kalman filter based algorithm

    • Filter state: horizontal position and water current

    • High rate dead-reckoning data

    • Low rate range measurements

  • Real-time transponder selection

    • Covariance matrix updated in real time

    • Interrogation sequence driven by innovation potential

Post mission trajectory smoothing

Post Mission Trajectory Smoothing




  • Algorithm based on the Rauch-Tung-Striebel nonlinear smoother

  • State similar to the online filter

  • Estimates depend on past and “future” data

  • Uses data recorded on the on-board computer





Passive tracking algorithm

txponder detects & replies

vehicle detects & pings txponder #2

txponder detects & replies

vehicle detects & pings txponder #1

txponder detects & replies

vehicle pings txponder #1

 t1

 t1

 t4

 t4

 t1

 t2

 t3

 t2

 t3

 t2


ping #1 detected

ping #2 detected

ping #1 detected

2*  t1 +  t2 +  t3

2*  t4 +  t2 +  t3


Passive Tracking Algorithm

External tracking mechanism

External Tracking Mechanism

  • Normal operation

    • Listenning device just detects pings sent by the vehicles

    • After two interrogations, a range is computed

    • Listenning device can be located anywhere within acoustic range (including other AUVs!)

    • Vehicles keep navigating at the end of mission

  • Emergency operation

    • Simple commands can be sent to the vehicles

    • Vehicles carry an automatic responder

    • Ranges can be estimated even with computer system shut down

Mission tracking software

Mission Tracking Software

  • Interface to the navigation beacons

    • display of acoustic signals being transmitted and received

    • map the position of the surface buoys (GPS)

    • map the position of the vehicles

    • reconfiguration of the frequency pairs

    • transmission of “special” commands

  • Flexible operation

    • runs on any laptop connected to a radio modem

    • may run on several locationssimultaneously

Acoustic navigation network

Acoustic Navigation Network

Multifrequency acoustic beacon

  • Multi-channel transmitter and receiver

  • Programmable frequency pairs

  • Simultaneous navigation of multiple vehicles

  • Medium frequency signals (20-30khz), over 2km range

Surface Buoys

  • Stainless steel structure

  • Polyurethane flotation disc

  • GPS receiver

  • Radio modem

Multipurpose surface buoy

Multipurpose Surface Buoy

  • Acoustic navigation

  • Moored sensors

  • Communication relay

Radio antenna


Fiberglass coated Polyurethane foam

Underwater cablesand connectors




Acoustic transducer

To anchor

Advanced mission concepts

Advanced Mission Concepts

The piscis project 2002 2005


Development of a new generation AUV

Simultaneous navigation of multiple AUVs

Coordinated operation of AUVs

Specification and control of sensor driven missions

The PISCIS Project (2002-2005)

  • LSTS Approach

    • Improvement in mechanical design

    • Development of acoustic navigation systems

    • Synthesis of controllers for networked vehicles

  • Consortium


Advanced mission concepts1

Advanced Mission Concepts

  • Real-time adaptive sampling

    • Model of oceanographic processes

    • Coarse survey to localize features

    • Track features and identify model parameters

  • Cooperative missions

    • Each vehicle makes a local measurement

    • Vehicles share a minimum of data

  • Gradient following

    • Detect and follow a given gradient

    • Possibilities for single and multiple vehicles

Conclusions and future work

Conclusions and Future Work

  • Conclusions

    • The LSTS team has accumulated valuable expertise in development and integration of underwater systems and technologies

    • Low operational costs allowed for development validation by intensive field operations

    • Research has been driven by end-user requirements and strongly influenced by mission results

  • What’s ahead?

    • New AUV expected to be tested during 2003

    • New AUV fully operational in 2004

    • Navigation of multiple AUVs expected during 2004

    • Coordinated operation of AUVs expected during 2004

    • Communication between AUVs, buoys and shore during 2004

    • New sensors for ROV during 2004

    • Intervention capabilities for ROV during 2004

SUMARE Workshop, Villefranche-sur-Mer, 15-16 October 2003

Artwork Courtesy of Michael Incze, NUWC

Thank you

Thank You.


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