American Society of Civil Engineers


The Development of a Highly Maneuverable Underwater Vehicle


by David K. Novick, (Center for Intelligent Machines and Robotics, 300 MEB University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), Robert Pitzer, (Center for Intelligent Machines and Robotics, 300 MEB University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), Bryan Wilkers, (Center for Intelligent Machines and Robotics, 300 MEB University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), Carl D. Crane, III, (Center for Intelligent Machines and Robotics, 300 MEB University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), Erik de la Iglesia, (Machine Intelligence Laboratory, 332 Benton Hall University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), and Keith L. Doty, (Machine Intelligence Laboratory, 332 Benton Hall University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611)

pp. 168-173, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/40337(205)25)

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Robotics 98
Abstract: A highly maneuverable underwater vehicle that can be operated remotely with computer assistance was designed, fabricated and tested by researchers at the University of Florida. The vehicle incorporates many off-the-shelf components in order to minimize cost. The body was constructed using a foam core with a fiberglass/carbon fiber outer shell. Energy was provided by an Exidel 12V gel cell wheelchair battery. Four trolling motors, two oriented horizontally and two vertically, provide forward/backward thrust, turning, and ascend/descend movement. Attitude and heading are furnished by Precision Navigation’s TCM2 digital compass. Vertical position in the water is sensed with a pressure gauge. Two valves are used to fill a buoyancy compensator with air from ballast tanks, or to operate an air-actuated valve to release the air and fill the buoyancy compensator with water. A 68HC11 microcontroller from Novasoft is used to read in data from the sensors, and provide controlling signals to the motors. Approximately 0.9144 m (3 feet) wide by 0.9144 m (3 feet) long by 0.6096 m (2 feet) high, the sub is highly maneuverable due to its small size and tight turn radius. Weighing about 40.82 kg (90 pounds) out of the water, it is close to neutrally buoyant in the water. Since buoyant forces are near the top of the sub, while the heavy weight is located at the bottom, it is also inherently stable. The paper will detail the vehicle design and the resulting performance capabilities.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Control systems
Probe instruments
Remote control
Robotics
Underwater surveys