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Title: Visiting U-Tokyo story
Author: Hsin-Hung Chen and Yu-Cheng Chou
Professors, Institute of Undersea Technology, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan
As supported by the International Targeted Research Areas Project of the National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), we had a short-term research visit from July 30 to August 2 at the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo (U-Tokyo) (Figure 1). Prof. Toshihiro Maki was our host professor. Prof. Maki is one of the key members in the Center for Integrated Underwater Observation Technology, and his research focuses on the development and application of underwater platform systems.
Prof. Maki led a facility tour for us in the morning of July 30. He introduced different AUVs, the full-ocean-depth hydrostatic pressure testing system, and the large/small water pools for testing underwater vehicles. There was a workshop held in the afternoon of July 30. Prof. Maki started the workshop by introducing the U-Tokyo, the IIS, and the research directions and achievements of his lab (Figure 2). Next, we exchanged presents with Prof. Maki and Ms. Harumi Sugimatsu (Figure 3). Ms. Sugimatsu is currently a specially appointed researcher in Prof. Blair Thornton’s lab. Afterward, we introduced the Institute of Undersea Technology (IUT) at NSYSU and the research achievements of the Underwater Mechatronics Laboratory (UML) (Figure 4). Lastly, research members of Prof. Maki and Prof. Thornton presented their research topics, current results, and future works.
On July 31, Dr. Takumi Matsuda (a specially appointed researcher in Prof. Maki’s lab) introduced the purpose and specifications of AUV Tri-TON. Dr. Matsuda also used AUV Tri-TON to demonstrate wireless remote control, mission setup, and data access on the water surface, and underwater waypoint navigation (Figure 5). We also tested the performance of AUV Tri-TON’s motion controller by specifying the coordinates of waypoints and the desired depth of AUV Tri-TON. Additionally, we participated in the hydrostatic pressure test for the main housing and battery housings of AUV MONACA (Figure 6). AUV MONACA is a variable and compact AUV developed for conducting under-ice surveys in Antarctica (Figure 7).
On August 1, with assistance from Dr. Matsuda, we acquired basic understanding and hands-on experiences for the Robot Operating System (ROS), which is the AUV software development platform used in Prof. Maki’s lab. We successfully modified an ROS-based AUV control program in order to read sensor data through the RS-232 serial communication interface of our laptop computer (Figure 8).
On August 2, we participated in the multi-AUV experiments conducted by Mr. Yuya Hamamatsu (a graduate student in Prof. Maki’s lab) and Dr. Matsuda. The experiments aimed to test the performance of a short-distance multi-AUV following method based on LED images (Figure 9). In addition, we also performed the underwater positioning experiments through our laptop computer, an underwater USBL transponder connecting to our laptop computer, an ROS-based AUV control program, and an underwater USBL positioning station fixed on the bottom of the water pool. With Dr. Matsuda’s help, we successfully modified the ROS-based AUV control program in order to obtain the relative distance and angle information between the underwater USBL transponder and the underwater USBL positioning station (Figure 10).
We would like to thank Prof. Maki for the excellent visiting arrangement he made for us. Prof. Maki was so considerate by helping us make the best use of our limited time to learn more of his AUVs. Everything went quickly and smoothly as planned and we could not be more satisfied with the entire visit.