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Ph.D. Proposal Oral Exam - Zhijian Hao

Event Details

Friday, December 10, 2021

12:00pm - 2:00pm


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Event Details

Title:  Swimming Micro-robot Swarms for Underwater Exploration


Dr. Ansari, Advisor       

Dr. Hutchinson, Chair

Dr. Raychowdhury

Abstract: The objective of the proposed research is to develop a swarm of swimming micro-robots for underwater exploration, which is crucial for understanding the composition of water bodies and an abundance of lifeforms that can lead to scientific breakthroughs in areas such as food, energy, and novel medicine. Underwater exploration is also the key to the search of extraterrestrial lives in the ocean worlds of the outer space. Water has been found under ice sheets of icy moons such as Europa and Enceladus in our solar system. Transportation to the outer space and extraterrestrial operations post significant size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) constraints, which are challenging for conventional autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Recent advancements in microelectromechanical system (MEMS) and mechatronics al- low the sub-systems (sensing, actuation, communication, etc.) in conventional underwater vehicles to be miniaturized, thus enabling the required underwater exploration capabilities to be integrated in a much more compact form factor. In addition, in the field of swarm robotics, emerging collective behaviors of multi-agent systems are shown to be able to arise from simple interaction rules. Such swarm algorithms can be incorporated to effi- ciently coordinate robots for complex missions and improve the robustness of the whole system. Based on these technological developments and findings, I propose to develop a swarm of swimming micro-robots equipped with a variety of sensors for underwater exploration applications. The robots will be built with a size in a few centimeter scale, which is much smaller than conventional AUVs, yet capable for sensing signals of interest underwater, including but not limited to temperature, pressure, and salinity. Swarm algorithms will be implemented in the swimming swarm and optimized for exploration efficiency and data accuracy. The swarm will demonstrate the underwater exploration capabilities in both lab and real-world environments.

Last revised December 3, 2021