Industrial Electronics

Mobile docking station makes robots truly autonomous

07 October 2020

Researchers from Purdue University created a docking station for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to recharge without human intervention.

Once completely submerged in the water, marine robots lose their ability to transmit or receive radio signals and some may lose acoustic transmission. This has severely limited robots' range of operation.

Robots need to recharge their batteries and upload data, which is a challenge when exploring deep ocean water. In order to recharge or gather data, humans have to retrieve the robots. The team wanted to create a method that removes humans from the equation.

They created a mobile docking system for AUVs that allows them to perform longer tasks and eliminates the need for human intervention. They also developed algorithms to maximize trajectories. The new system was validated with a short mission on Lake Superior.

The new docking station is portable, which opens it up for a variety of applications. Researchers say that it could be used in a stationary location, on autonomous surface vehicles and even in space on intergalactic lakes.

A paper on the docking station was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation.

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