Exploring the Blue Frontier with Cooperative Marine Robots


The last decade has witnessed tremendous progress in the development of marine technologies that are steadily affording scientists advanced equipment and methods for ocean exploration and exploitation. Recent advances in marine robotics, sensors, computers, communications, and information systems are being applied to the development of sophisticated technologies that will lead to safer, faster, and far more efficient ways of exploring the ocean frontier, especially in hazardous conditions. As part of this trend, there has been a surge of interest worldwide in the development of autonomous marine robots capable of roaming the oceans freely and collecting data at the surface of the ocean and underwater on an unprecedented scale. Representative examples are autonomous surface craft (ASC) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The mission scenarios envisioned call for the control of single or multiple AUVs, ASCs, and even Gliders acting in cooperation to execute challenging tasks without close supervision of human operators.

This talk is rooted in the general topic of cooperative motion planning, navigation, and control of marine vehicles, both from a theoretical and a practical perspective. The presentation builds upon practical developments and experiments. Examples of scientific missions with ASCs and AUVs, acting alone or in cooperation, set the stage for the main contents of the presentation. Especial emphasis is placed on the problem of operating vehicles for scientific ocean studies, habitat mapping in complex 3D scenarios, geotechnical surveying, underwater radioactivity mapping, inspection of offshore wind infrastructures, tele-presence at sea, and ocean literacy. From a theoretical standpoint, a number of challenging problems are introduced in the general area of networked systems subjected to stringent communication constraints. Namely, i) cooperative motion control using event-driven control and communications and ii) range-based multiple target localization and tracking using tools from the areas of optimal motion planning and estimation theory. The results obtained are
illustrated with videos from actual field tests with multiple marine robots exchanging information over bimodal acoustic and optical networks.

The core material presented in this talk was obtained in the scope of the following EU-funded projects:
• MORPH (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/101726/factsheet/en)
• WiMUST (http://www.wimust.eu/)
• H2020 EU Marine Robotics Research Infrastructure Network (https://www.eumarinerobots.eu/)
• BlueRoses ( https://bluerosesproject.wixsite.com/home)
• RAMONES (https://ramones-project.eu/)



António M. Pascoal received the Licenciatura degree in Electrical Engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Lisbon, Portugal, in 1975 and the M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Control Science from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA in 1983 and 1987, respectively. From 1987-88 he was a Research Scientist with Integrated Systems Incorporated, Santa Clara, California, where he conducted research and development work in the areas of system modeling and identification and robust and adaptive control. From 1988-93, he was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering of the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), where he is currently an Associate Professor of Control and Robotics. He has taught courses in the areas of Linear Control Systems, Digital Control, Robotics, Nonlinear Systems, Dynamical System Theory, Multivariable Robust Control, and Optimal Control Theory.

In 1993 he joined the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR) of IST where he became the Coordinator of the Dynamical Systems and Ocean Robotics Laboratory. He is currently the coordinator of the Thematic Line Ocean Exploration and Exploitation of the Laboratory for Robotics and Engineering Systems (LARSyS). Since 2012, he has been an Adjunct Scientist with the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India. He is a Visiting Faculty with the Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras, under the Indian Sparc Programme. He was elected Chair, IFAC Technical Committee Marine Systems, from 2008-2014. He has coordinated and participated in a large number of international projects that have led to the design, development, and field-testing of single and multiple autonomous marine and air vehicles and systems in cooperation with partners in India (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa), USA (Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA), Korea (KAIST, Daejeon), and Europe. His research interests include Marine Robotics with applications to the development of aerial and marine robots for ocean exploration and exploitation.

He is currently the Director of the FCT-IST PhD program on Networked Interactive Cyber Physical Systems (NETSyS) and a Member of the Editorial Board of the Springer Intelligent Systems, Control and Automation Book Series. He has also been a member of the International Program Committees of numerous conferences on dynamical systems and control as well as marine and aerial robotics. He has supervised or co-supervised 11 postdoctoral and 15 PhD students. He has published a total of 113 books, book chapters, and peer reviewed journal papers, and more than 260 conference papers (12423 Citations, h-index 59, i10-index 241/ Google Scholar). He received the IEEE OES AUV Distinguished Lifetime Technical Achievement Award in 2020.

His expertise includes Dynamical Systems Theory, Marine Robotics, Navigation, Guidance, and Control of Autonomous Vehicles, and Networked Control and Estimation with applications to air and underwater robots. His long-term goal is to contribute to the development of advanced robotic systems for ocean resources exploration and exploitation.