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Issue: V6N1 - Subsea oil and gas: launch into the deep
Preview of: Assigning Closely Spaced Targets to Multiple Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

This paper addresses the problem of allocating closely spaced targets to multiple autonomous underwater vehicles in the presence of constant ocean currents. Targets are considered to be geographical locations that the AUVs must visit, ideally in an order that minimizes the path cost. The main difficulty of this problem is that the non-holonomic vehicles are constrained to move along forward paths with bounded curvatures. To accommodate such constraints, a new method for calculating path costs is proposed that considers vehicle kinematics, dynamics, and ocean currents. This path cost can be easily evaluated and queried from any general target sequence planner. Simulations show that the proposed method is able to create feasible paths with a lower cost when compared to solutions whose cost functions are calculated based solely on Euclidean distances. Field tests conducted on an Iver2 AUV validate the performance of the proposed algorithm in real world environments. Results show that the proposed algorithm generates paths that are feasible for an AUV to track closely, even in the presence of ocean currents.

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