The ALICE (SPARUS) Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) was conceived in the Underwater Robotics Research Centre (CIRS) of the University of Girona (Spain). The first version was designed in 2010 to participate in the European Student AUV competition, organized by CMRE in La Spezia (Italy). The robot won the competition and, since then, it has collaborated in several research projects. In 2013, a new version of the robot, SPARUS II AUV, was finished and is now being commercialized.
We are currently working on the following SPARUS II AUV projects:
Visual survey of the seafloor for high resolution mapping:
Two additional thrusters were added to the SPARUS II AUV to facilitate hovering capability and improve the AUV's path following controller. This enables the AUV to maneuver precisely along a surveyed track while being robust against sea currents. In addition, an in-house designed visual survey payload was integrated into the AUV, consisting of stereo vision cameras and two strobes.
Forward-looking sonar and forward-looking camera path planning and obstacle avoidance algorithm:
An autonomous path planning algorithm is currently under development. This algorithm will fuse camera and sonar data in order to perceive the environment around the AUV and compute a feasible path to its destination, considering the AUV's dynamic constraints and sea currents.
Robust launch and recovery operation of AUV with a deployable docking station concept:
In this study, a compact LARS system is currently being designed to fit launch and recovery operations of the SPARUS II AUV from small vessels. The AUV will autonomously dock a heave compensated subsurface component of the system and then be safely retrieved from the vessel.