Cooperative marine robotics for scientific and commercial applications

Where: Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal​

Contact point: Prof. António Pascoal​ – CV

Why become an expert in Cooperative marine robotics for scientific and commercial applications?

We are entering a new era where the use of groups of autonomous marine robots working in cooperation, networked via aerial, acoustic, and optical links will dramatically improve the means available for ocean exploration and exploitation at unprecedented temporal and spatial scales. New theoretical frameworks and cutting-edge technologies are required to bring about this revolution in the field of marine robotics, “leveraging on the transformative advances and growth of the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence”. This leap forward will hinge on the availability of a new breed of research engineer with the capacity to master the concepts and techniques required to design, implement, and field test advanced systems for multiple robotic vehicle operations, with a view to increase the safety, efficiency, and efficacy of operations at sea in a multitude of scientific and commercial scenarios.

At the core of the systems required for cooperative multiple vehicle operations are those in charge of cooperative motion planning with temporal and energy cost criteria, cooperative navigation and control, and networked operations that are often enabled via acoustic communication links that exhibit low bandwidth and are plagued with latency and temporary communication losses. The study track proposed by IST-UL, entitled Cooperative Marine Robotics for Scientific and Commercial Applications, leverages on the know-how and experience of its staff members, and aims to afford students the expertise required to advance R&D in this challenging and promising area of work.

The theoretical background required will be acquired by proper choice of the courses taught at IST-UL and at the other partner institutions. The students opting for this track will also be given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the process of going from theory to practice by participating in sea tests with real vehicles that are property of IST and include ASVs, AUVs, ROVs, and Hybrid ROV/AUV systems. Whenever possible, the master thesis in this track will include the implementation of at least one representative system (e.g. motion planning, navigation, or control) on-board a group of vehicles and the evaluation of its performance using the infrastructures and tests facilities available at IST-UL. During this phase, the students will benefit from the guidance and assistance of the research engineers at IST-UL that are responsible for the deployment, maintenance, and operation of the in-house developed robotic systems and associated software suites for seamless system implementation.

Cooperative marine robotics for scientific and commercial applications study track specific learning outcomes include qualifying Master students to:

  1. Define the key specifications that are at the root of the design of advanced cooperative networked marine robotic systems for a number of representative commercial and scientific use-cases (e.g., Offshore renewables, Ocean farming, Oil & gas surveys, Marine security and surveillance, Seabed mapping, Adaptive ocean sampling).
  2. Fully grasp how to go from functional/technical specifications to detailed system specifications inherent to the development and operation of multiple cooperative robots. Namely, the systems in charge of cooperative motion planning, navigation, and control in the presence of stringent communication constraints imposed by the water medium.
  3. Acquire a solid theoretical background in topics that are crucial to the design of the above systems for groups of heterogeneous vehicles that may include autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Hybrid ROV/AUV vehicles, and underwater gliders.
  4. Design new systems for single and cooperative motion planning, navigation, and control, followed by performance assessment via computer and hardware-in-the-loop simulations
  5. Familiarizing themselves with the problems of full system implementation and the issues of safety and good practices at sea, through applied projects.

The teaching modules are listed below:

  • Optimization and algorithms – 4 ECTS

  • Decision systems – 4 ECTS

  • Autonomous systems – 4 ECTS

  • Embedded Computational Systems – 4 ECTS

  • Distributed Real Time Control Systems – 4 ECTS

  • Telecommunication Networks – 4 ECTS

  • Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Transfer – 4 ECTS