Towards persistent AUVs for seabed inspection
Inspection of underwater natural or artificial structures is one application of high interest to be performed by AUVs. Underwater environments provide challenging scenarios, mainly due to technological difficulties related to exploration (i.e., lack of reliable localization and communication, autonomy limitations), but also due to water currents and complex underwater reliefs. These are problems not easy to deal with, and that is the reason why new technology to explore the ocean floor is under continuous development nowadays. Persistent deployment of AUVs holds the key to achieve consistent, long-term undersea monitoring and inspection. The use of docking stations allows long-term usage of AUVs by connecting them for data download and remote mission redefinition and supervision. This talk presents the work done in the University of Girona during the last years about online exploration and path planning for seabed inspection, and the work done in the Sunrise Loon-Dock project about persistent deployment using a docking station. The results of these projects point out the possibility of having in the near future AUVs working persistently for long-term exploration or inspection applications.