Accounting for uncertainty in search operations using AUVs

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Nuno Miguel Abreu
Nuno Cruz
Aníbal Matos
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Traditional coverage path planners create lawnmower-type paths in the operating area completely ignoring the uncertainty in the vehicle's position. However, in the presence of significant uncertainty in localization estimates, one can no longer guarantee that the vehicle will cover all the area according to plan. Aiming to bridge this gap, we present a coverage path planning technique for search operations which takes into account the vehicle's position and detection performance uncertainties and tries to minimize this uncertainty along the planned path. The objective is to plan paths, using a localization error model as input, to reduce as much uncertainty as possible and to minimize the extra path length (swath overlap) while satisfying mission feasibility constraints. We introduce an algorithm that calculates what will be the best moments for bringing the vehicle to surface to ensure a bounded position error. We also consider time and energy constraints that may influence the planned trajectory as path overlap is increased to account for uncertainty. Additionally we challenge the assumption frequently seen in coverage algorithms where two observations of the same target are considered independent. © 2017 IEEE.