Efficient AUV navigation fusing acoustic ranging and side-scan sonar

M.F. Fallon, M. Kaess, H. Johannsson, J.J. Leonard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper presents an on-line nonlinear least squares algorithm for multi-sensor autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) navigation. The approach integrates the global constraints of range to and GPS position of a surface vehicle or buoy communicated via acoustic modems and relative pose constraints arising from targets detected in side-scan sonar images. The approach utilizes an efficient optimization algorithm, iSAM, which allows for consistent on-line estimation of the entire set of trajectory constraints. The optimized trajectory can then be used to more accurately navigate the AUV, to extend mission duration, and to avoid GPS surfacing. As iSAM provides efficient access to the marginal covariances of previously observed features, automatic data association is greatly simplified - particularly in sparse marine environments. A key feature of our approach is its intended scalability to single surface sensor (a vehicle or buoy) broadcasting its GPS position and simultaneous one-way travel time range (OWTT) to multiple AUVs. We discuss why our approach is scalable as well as robust to modem transmission failure. Results are provided for an ocean experiment using a Hydroid REMUS 100 AUV co-operating with one of two craft: an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) and a manned support vessel. During these experiments the ranging portion of the algorithm ran online on-board the AUV. Extension of the paradigm to multiple missions via the optimization of successive survey missions (and the resultant sonar mosaics) is also demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobotics and Automation (ICRA), 2011 IEEE International Conference on
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-61284-386-5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Global Positioning System
  • image fusion
  • least squares approximations
  • mobile robots
  • path planning
  • pose estimation
  • remotely operated vehicles
  • sonar imaging
  • underwater vehicles
  • GPS
  • Hydroid REMUS 100 AUV
  • acoustic modem
  • acoustic ranging
  • automatic data association
  • autonomous surface vehicle
  • buoy
  • iSAM
  • incremental smoothing and mapping
  • manned support vessel
  • modem transmission failure
  • multisensor AUV navigation
  • on-line nonlinear least squares algorithm
  • one-way travel time range
  • optimization algorithm
  • pose graph estimation
  • side-scan sonar image
  • single surface sensor
  • Acoustics
  • Distance measurement
  • Position measurement
  • Sea measurements
  • Sonar
  • Sonar navigation
  • Vehicles


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