NRI: FND: Extending Autonomy in Seemingly Sensory-Denied Environments Applied to Underwater Robots Grant

NRI: FND: Extending Autonomy in Seemingly Sensory-Denied Environments Applied to Underwater Robots .


  • Many coastal communities in the U.S. are densely populated and highly urbanized, presenting critical locations for assessing the effects of urbanization and climate on the coastal ocean's physical and biological states. Effective study requires long-term, persistent ocean monitoring utilizing autonomous vehicles to enable a deeper understanding of these processes. This project aims to overcome the theoretical and technical challenges to enable heterogeneous groups of autonomous vehicles to perform intelligent sampling in dynamic and sensory-denied environments, with a focus on the maritime domain. The success of these endeavors will improve weather forecasting, underwater transport dynamics understanding, and modeling and prediction of various physical phenomena in aquatic environments. The team of researchers will engage underrepresented groups in STEM in the research program by leveraging a diverse student population at Florida International University (a minority-serving institution). The educational activities aim to positively impact a generation of young technologists and equip them with a strong interdisciplinary skillset.This project aims to advance robotics and ocean sciences by creating novel mapping, localization, navigation, and robot-human communication techniques that will enable autonomous aquatic vehicles to sample intelligently in sensor-denied, dynamic environments. The research activities are divided into four tasks. The first task develops 3D representations of aquatic environments and features from physical and biological models, bathymetry, and in situ samples that are devoid of world reference models. The second task develops a new framework for dynamic mapping and localization for aquatic robots to perform targeted sampling within dynamically evolving aquatic features. Task 3 develops map representations that are both human-friendly and robot-digestible to facilitate knowledge transfer with low data exchange. Task 4 includes the experimental validation of the developed approaches using simulation, laboratory experiments, and full-scale field trials. The planned novel frameworks to map representation, localization, and navigation can find applications in mobile robot systems beyond aquatic vehicles such as subterranean and space robotics.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2023

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • 2024733