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Article Abstract – Anderson et al. (2016)


Development and implementation of a marine robotics algorithm validation testbed

Authors and affiliations:

Jacob Anderson, Brandon Belcher, Kathrine Clark, Jake Faust, Erik Hall, Joseph Sandoval, Kennith Tozer and Ryan N. Smith

Robotic GNOME Laboratory, Department of Physics and Engineering, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO


OCEANS 2016 MTS/IEEE Monterey, September 2016.


Clean water is a natural resource that is crucial for life but has very little protection. This was exemplified by the Gold King Mine spill on August 7, 2015, in which three million gallons of acidic mine drainage was released into the head waters of the Animas River. The Animas River is the source for five water supply systems, providing drinking water for tens of thousands of people and irrigation water for a myriad of agricultural operations. Incidents such as this happen regularly and create the need for persistent monitoring of the water in rivers, lakes and reservoirs world wide. To this end, this paper presents the development of a network of three autonomous surface vehicles equipped with water monitoring sensors for water quality monitoring and an algorithm validation testbed. These vehicles are sustained by solar power and equipped with 3G wireless communication for real-time data transmission. Here, we detail the vehicles and the networked system, and provide results from field deployments. An additional outcome of this project is the engagement and collaboration with the local community and the robotic community at large. By making the database view-able to the public the local community can be involved in evaluating the quality of their water. By allowing the public to plan paths for the vehicles, multi-robot sampling algorithms and crowd-sourced control techniques can be methodically developed and systematically analyzed.

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