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Home : Media : News
NEWS | May 23, 2024

NSWC Panama City, BYU develop and test algorithms for dynamic multi-UUV bathymetry localization

By Jeremy Roman, NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) and Brigham Young University (BYU) are collaborating to develop techniques that enable teams of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to cooperatively maintain an accurate, location estimate while operating for long periods of time in submerged scenarios. Through the development of algorithms, this team is enabling these UUV groups to estimate their relative positions and utilize bathymetry to bound localization drift.
“To test these techniques, we are developing a low-cost fleet of UUVs based on the Disposable Reusable Expeditionary Warfare Underwater Vehicle (DREW-UV) developed at NSWC PCD. These low cost UUVs will be used in coordination with BYU's IVER3 UUVs to conduct in-site testing of the proposed algorithms,” said Dr. Joshua Mangelson, BYU Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) assistant professor. “We chose this project because it builds upon our expertise in localization and provides ample opportunities for many students to get involved in Navy-relevant research problems.”

Mangelson runs the Field Robotic Systems (FRoSt) Lab at BYU, which is focused on developing perception, localization, and autonomy solutions for marine robotic systems. The majority of FRoSt’s projects are Navy-focused and span various specialties to include UUV cooperative localization, sonar-based mapping and localization for UUVs, autonomous unmanned surface vessel (USV) operation in dynamic littoral zones, and simulation for marine autonomy development. NSWC PCD is respected in their field for technical excellence in delivering relevant solutions in the littoral (coastal) regions from the seabed to space.

Both, Mangelson's group at BYU and NSWC PCD, have been developing a partnership over several years however, this is the first year of collaborations via the Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC) program and this project is named: NEEC: Active & Cooperative Terrain Aided Navigation Using Inverted-Ultra-short Baseline.
“We were very excited about this project, as it has cross-cutting Science Technology potential across all NSWC PCD’s mission areas of Mine Warfare, Expeditionary Warfare, and Subsea Warfare. Fostering collaborations for undergraduate and graduate research in unmanned maritime systems is a crucial aspect of our talent pipeline,” said NSWC PCD NEEC Director Dr. Matthew Bays.

“…working on the NEEC project serves as a reminder that [my] scholarly endeavors have tangible real-world applications, directly impacting human safety and national security. In addition, having the opportunity to visit our sponsoring naval base and see the similarity in our research and agents we use confirmed…that my research is relevant,” said Kalliyan Lay, BYU ECE PhD student. “This experience has allowed me to bridge the gap between theory and practical implementation, igniting a sense of excitement in the idea that even my small advances in research can have impactful effects on the real world.” 

This program offers benefits at every facet and was designed to bring students, teachers and Navy scientists and engineers together to explore current and future technical challenges through project-based research to attract and develop the next-generation of naval engineering talent.

“NEEC provides an opportunity to develop long term collaborations with NSWC PCD researchers and the excellent work being performed there. I love seeing the excitement on students faces as they realize there is much more they can do with their careers than they previously thought possible,” said Mangelson.

Matthew McMurray is a BYU undergraduate student pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and will be interning at NSWC PCD this summer.

“Participating in NEEC…has not only helped me to apply what I am learning in my major to a robotics project, but it also has motivated me to pursue a graduate degree in the future…[and] has given me invaluable experience in solving real-world, relevant problems. Because of NEEC, not only am I able to participate in a research internship this summer, but I also recognize that the project has expanded my view of future graduate and career paths I can take,” said McMurray. “I am especially grateful to our collaborators at NSWC PCD for regularly meeting with my group to help us in our research and facilitate our NEEC experience. I look forward to my continued participation in the program!