The European R&D-Project GREX: Coordination and Control of Cooperating Heterogeneous Unmanned Systems in Uncertain Environments
Manoeuvring and Control of Marine Craft, Volume # | Part#
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Architectures for teams of robotic marine vehicles; Cooperative navigation and control of Multiple Marine Vehicle Systems; Cooperative control under severe communication constraints
The GREX Project one of the few collaborating R&D initiatives, centered around Autonomous Marine Vehicles, and which are co-funded by the European Union within the 6th framework, is about to end. It started in June 2006 and faces its final evaluation in October 2009. Grex is the Latin word for a group or flock and for the first time ever a team of heterogeneous unmanned vehicles perform a coordinated, cooperative mission whereby each vehicle plays the role of a sophisticated node in a network. This presentation will give insight about the solutions to the challenging and ambitious goals of the project which sets a true milestone in AUV capabilities. The motivations behind a multiple-vehicles mission are obvious. Multiple vehicles allow surveying wider areas in less time while simultaneously obtaining time and space resolutions that are otherwise unachievable. Combining pre-existing vehicles into a team makes research more effective and will lead to completely new applications. Systems intended for searching operations could re-direct vehicles equipped with manipulators in order to refine research results. Some systems could watch other systems at work to record the operations using video or they could serve as navigation aids or communication relay stations. The key thrust of the research and development effort is to create a conceptual framework to coordinate a group of preexisting marine robotic vehicles in order to cooperate towards a common goal. Activities within the project span from the intuitive planning of a multiple-vehicle mission to its properly controlled execution in the real world. It contained the creation of theoretical and practical tools for multiple vehicle cooperation, bridging the gap between concept and practice. This paper is an introduction into the GREX project with emphasis on the system approach and some selected results. Furthermore it shows opportunities how to convert a general vehicle into a team player.
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