Roboat II: A Novel Autonomous Surface Vessel for Urban Environments

This paper presents a novel autonomous surface vessel (ASV), called Roboat II for urban transportation. Roboat II is capable of accurate simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), receding horizon tracking control and estimation, and path planning. Roboat II is designed to maximize the internal space for transport, and can carry payloads several times of its own weight.

Moreover, it is capable of holonomic motions to facilitate transporting, docking, and inter-connectivity between boats. The proposed SLAM system receives sensor data from a 3D LiDAR, an IMU, and a GPS, and utilizes a factor graph to tackle the multi-sensor fusion problem. To cope with the complex dynamics in the water, Roboat II employs an online nonlinear model predictive controller (NMPC), where we experimentally estimated the dynamical model of the vessel in order to achieve superior performance for tracking control. The states of Roboat II are simultaneously estimated using a nonlinear moving horizon estimation (NMHE) algorithm. Experiments demonstrate that Roboat II is able to successfully perform online mapping and localization, plan its path and robustly track the planned trajectory in the confined river, implying that this autonomous vessel holds the promise on potential applications in transporting humans and goods in many of the waterways nowadays.

Source: Wang, W., Shan, T., Leoni, P.,Fernandez-Gutiérrez, D., Meyers, D., Ratti, C., & Rus, D. 2020. Roboat II: A Novel Autonomous Surface Vessel for Urban Environments. Senseable City Lab

Image credits

Icon image: Wikimedia Commons - Amsterdam canal