Cooperative AUV Navigation using a Single Maneuvering Surface Craft

Maurice F Fallon, Georgios Papadopoulos, John J Leonard, Nicholas M Patrikalakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we describe the experimental implementation of an online algorithm for cooperative localization of submerged autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) supported by an autonomous surface craft. Maintaining accurate localization of an AUV is difficult because electronic signals, such as GPS, are highly attenuated by water. The usual solution to the problem is to utilize expensive navigation sensors to slow the rate of dead-reckoning divergence. We investigate an alternative approach that utilizes the position information of a surface vehicle to bound the error and uncertainty of the on-board position estimates of a low-cost AUV. This approach uses the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) acoustic modem to exchange vehicle location estimates while simultaneously estimating inter-vehicle range. A study of the system observability is presented so as to motivate both the choice of filtering approach and surface vehicle path planning. The first contribution of this paper is to the presentation of an experiment in which an extended Kalman filter (EKF) implementation of the concept ran online on-board an OceanServer Iver2 AUV while supported by an autonomous surface vehicle moving adaptively. The second contribution of this paper is to provide a quantitative performance comparison of three estimators: particle filtering (PF), non-linear least-squares optimization (NLS), and the EKF for a mission using three autonomous surface craft (two operating in the AUV role). Our results indicate that the PF and NLS estimators outperform the EKF, with NLS providing the best performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1474
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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