Mapping the seafloor using customized underwater robot

Mapping the seafloor using customized underwater robot


[music]>>Billings: It’s our first run. You know it’s always
a big thing to just get it out there and run your first mission with it. [typing] Making sure all the hardware operates correctly making sure your data is stored
correctly. You just see it’s a different world down there. [music]>>Johnson-Roberson: There’s a sense of adventure when you take a robot to a place that’s never
been before and you kind of send it off requiring the imagination and the
inventiveness early explorers had when they’re going places that they had never
seen.>>Goumas: A lot of the ocean is mapped right now just using satellites and really
super low resolution and having things like this go out and map to a millimeter
scale will be very interesting to see what’s down there.>>Johnson-Roberson: So we’re using robotic technology particularly AUV, so Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. What we do is we take this stock, off-the-shelf vehicle and we’ve modified it with cameras so
that we can not only understand what’s down there but also understand the size
and distance of things.>>Billings: These are eight megapixel high-res cameras and also our own lighting system. We have to be ableto merge these images together into a nice mosaic from these images we can pull out depth features and kind of
track these features using what’s known as SLAM algorithms: Simultaneous
Localization and Mapping. Our target depth is going to be about two meters above the surface for running these bottom scans.>>Johnson-Roberson: It’ll dive and then
go across in the area that it’s interested in, in a straight line and at
the end of that line it should pop up, turn around and then move over a little
bit and come back the same way so we call that like “the lawn mower”.>>Billings: It just dove right behind us. It’s coming towards us, though.>>Goumas: That’s always really nerve-wracking when the vehicle should be back and you’re
looking at your watch and wondering where it is and it’s a huge relief when
it finally pops up and is just sitting there.>>Johnson-Roberson: Ultimately, we’d like to see robots
like this deployed and running for months or years gathering data, returning
that data to scientists and enable us as human beings to do things that we
couldn’t do before.>>Billings: I think that technology will help us better
understand nature and preserve what we have of it. You see technologies that
have contributed to destroying it. I think these are some of the technologies
that will help us preserve it

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