The field of marine robotics is rapidly growing, due in part to advances in energy storage, communication systems, and low-power computing. We address the engineering (software, mechanical, electrical, autonomy, communications), and operating environment challenges associated with mainstreaming state-of-art unmanned systems. Focuses include:
- Evolving marine robotic systems to operate intelligently and reliably in challenging environments
- Advancing onboard sensing and autonomy
- Furthering the science of environmental awareness for optimal operation including route planning
Example research programs that use these technologies include deep water surveys of a historic DDT dump site and the development of data analytics to count thousands of small objects in sidescan data; Project Recover that relies upon the use of marine robotics to find aviation crash sites associated with MIA from past conflicts; and deployment of autonomous systems to study ocean physics.
The deep ocean basins off the coast of Los Angeles have been historical dumpsites for various hazardous industrial wastes including the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), petrochemical, and other materials. This dumping is known to have occurred from the 1940s until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, was enacted. Contemporary logs show that thousands of barrels of DDT and other chemicals could have been dumped in the basin.
CORDC is focused on the development and evaluation of sensor payloads, communications, concepts of operations, and platform performance. The area of Marine Robotics that CORDC engages in also includes the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); integration of enhanced sensor payloads; supporting carry-on approval processes; assessment of alternative power sources; testing and assessing susceptibilities of unmanned systems; and evaluation and demonstration of non-standard remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
Expeditionary and Remote Sensing
The marine environment remains under-sampled in time and space, with advances in oceanic sensing continuing to provide insights into the physical processes which control the budgets and fluxes within the ocean-atmosphere system. We develop and deploy environmental sensing instruments that persist above, on, or in the ocean and use those data to observe the environment. Focuses include:
- Low power sensors that sample the environment, process data onboard in real-time, and report information back through satellite communication networks
- Use of radar to remotely sense the ocean surface
- Studies of air-sea interaction, wave physics, and boundary layer processes
Example programs include the Expeditionary Meterological Sensor (XMET); a GPS-based wave sensing drifting buoy, High Frequency (HF) radar for measurement of coastal currents through Doppler shift of Bragg energy; X-band radar for measurement of surface waves; and development of a Coastal Surveillance System to combat Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing in the Western Pacific.
HF-Radar Network (HFRNet) is being developed to manage and distribute in near-realtime ocean surface currents measured by a distributed network of shore-based HF radar systems. HFRNet provides reliable data telemetry, archiving, and integrated processing for a growing list of near real-time products in a scaleable manner for a growing user community supported by the Integrated Ocean Observing System.
This plan provides recommendations to the Republic of Palau for improved monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Improved MCS will aid in the deterrence, detection, interdiction, and prosecutions of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing violations and illegal drug and human trafficking in Palau’s EEZ. It will also improve search and rescue, oil spill and disaster response, pollution detection, weather forecasting, and resilience to a changing climate. The proposed actions will also serve to enhance Palau’s national security as well as regional security.