The first fully autonomous mission

By Giacomo Marani
Honolulu, January 20, 2010

The first fully autonomous underwater manipulation in an unstructured environment was demonstrated at the Snug Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii on January 20, 2010. The SAUVIM vehicle performed a fully autonomous navigation and manipulation task. It presents a technological breakthrough in the field, as the autonomous manipulation had been a bottleneck for underwater intervention missions.  This live demonstration was witnessed by people from the state government, university, industry, and military, as well as people from abroad.


The SAUVIM in water first performed the self-calibration routine, initializing its sub-systems. After the calibration, the SAUVIM started its motion for a pre-given mission which was to search for an underwater object and to securely hook a recovery device the object.

Underwater Platform

The object’s location was roughly given. It was know to lie somewhere in the front of the platform above. The platform location was submerged in an unknown location of the SNUG harbor.

Underwater Platform

Once the target was detected, the vehicle approached to it and positioned itself for the optimized manipulation. While the vehicle was floating in the water column, using the unified coordinated motion control of the vehicle and manipulator system, the vehicle performed an autonomous manipulation which was tagging-the-object. After completing the mission, the vehicle came back to the dock by using feature-based navigation. The whole sequence was autonomously done and the same mission was successfully repeated four times.

This session descibes in details the various steps of the mission, documented by videos taken during our experiments.


Start: 1. Undock >