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IKTPLUSS-IKT og digital innovasjon

ECSEL- prosjekt SWARMs, Smart and networking underWAter Robots in cooperation MesheS

Awarded: NOK 13.0 mill.

SWARM's goal was to increase the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), remote controlled underwater vehicles (ROV) and unmanned surface vessels (USV), by facilitating the planning and execution of maritime operations where such vessels cooperate. SWARMs started in 2015 and ended in 2018. The project had 30 partners from 10 European countries. Norwegian partners were Inventas (user interface design), Maritime Robotics (USV supplier), NTNU (owner of AUVs and test infrastructure), Water Linked (high-speed underwater communication) and SINTEF (methodology for development of autonomous vehicles, work package manager, Norwegian coordinator). The SWARMs project has developed software with three main components: 1) Operator station specially adapted to maritime operations with the use of underwater vehicles 2) A software component that can be included in the craft. 3) A middleware that links the two together. The project had an incremental development with three major demonstrations, 2016 in Gran Canaria, 2017 in Mangalia on the coast of the Black Sea (Romania) and 2018 in the Trondheim Fjord (Norway). In Mangalia, Water Linked demonstrated the latest version of their high-speed modem. Inventas demonstrated their new design for an "intuitive Input Device". Two specially designed joysticks are used to control an ROV with robot arm. Maritime Robotics had made the electronics for the joysticks and connected it to SINTEF's robot arm in Trondheim. It was much appreciated by evaluators and participants when the Norwegian partners were able to remotely control the robot arm in Trondheim in real time from Mangalia and perform simple tasks. The project culminated with a demonstration in the Trondheim Fjord in June 2018. The Norwegian partners were then host to over 60 project participants. SINTEF was administratively responsible. NTNU was responsible for all maritime operations and provided infrastructure and personnel at the "Trondhjems Biological Station" for the project. This included: operating room, instrument rooms, quay facilities and support vessels with crew. NTNU had integrated the SWARM's software in two of its AUVs. Maritime Robotics had done the same for one of its USVs. Other partners also provided AUVs and a demonstration with three AUVs and one USV in sea at the same time was conducted. First, the operation was planned from the operator station by specifying the area to be examined. Then everything happened autonomously: the USV made a surface search with sonar before moving into a circle, acting as a communication relay for the AUVs. The AUVs dived and moved according to trajectories that were auto-generated on the operator station. In a parallel session Water Linked demonstrated one of the world's first wireless ROVs using their high-speed modems and Inventa's Intuitive Input Device to remotely control a BlueROV without cable. All control signals to the ROV and video signal back went via Water Linked's new high-speed subsea modem. In addition to the very successful demonstration in the Trondheim Fjord, the Norwegian partners have contributed to the dissemination of project results through newsletters, articles, conferences, various events and the project's website

The SWARMs integrated platform allows creating, monitoring, controlling and managing the underwater industrial operations to autonomously (re)distribute, (re)configure, (re)synchronize and (re)plan them in realtime, depending on the situation raised during the operation execution. To achieve the project?s main aim, SWARMs will address the following specific objectives: 1. Developing an environment characterization and coordination system based on robust and reliable vision and acoustic software/hardware components 2. Designing the necessary infrastructure for monitoring and controlling underwater industrial operations by prioritizing the integration and interoperability among upcoming and legacy AUV/ROV systems. 3. A communication concept ensuring smooth functioning while also exploring new, innovative technologies. 4. Defining and applying a methodology for designing new operations using the SWARMs technologies, including new abilities to verify and validate cooperative functionality, safety and security conditions of SWARMs innovations and tools for AUV/ROV operations. 5. Testing, validating and demonstrating the SWARMs platform solution, under extreme conditions, in relevant and environmentally controlled scenarios.

Funding scheme:

IKTPLUSS-IKT og digital innovasjon