Controlling Ocean One: Human–robot collaboration for deep-sea manipulation

Type
Article

Authors
Brantner, Gerald
Khatib, Oussama

Date
2020-06-01

Abstract
Deploying robots to explore venues that are inaccessible to humans, or simply inhospitable, has been a longstanding ambition of scientists, engineers, and explorers across numerous fields. The deep sea exemplifies an environment that is largely uncharted and denies human presence. Central to exploration is the capacity to deliver dexterous robotic manipulation to this unstructured environment. Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are successful in providing passive solutions for observation and mapping but currently are far from capable of delivering human-level dexterity. The ones providing manipulation typically are UUVs coupled with position-controlled hydraulic arms using disjoint controllers for navigation and manipulation that require expert operators. Ocean One is a humanoid underwater robot designed specifically for underwater manipulation. In this paper, we present Ocean One's control architecture that, through a collaboration between this humanoid robot and a human pilot, enables the deployment of dexterous robotic manipulation to the deep sea. We provide detailed descriptions of this architecture's two main components: first, a whole-body controller that creates functional autonomy by coordinating manipulation, posture, and constraint tasks, and second, a set of haptic and visual human interfaces that enable intimate interaction while avoiding micromanagement. We test the presented methods in simulation and validate them in pool experiments and in two field deployments. On its maiden mission into the Mediterranean Sea, Ocean One explored the Lune, a French naval vessel that sank in 1664 off the coast of Toulon, France. In its second expedition, Ocean One assisted human divers in investigating underwater volcanic structures at Santorini, Greece.

Citation
Brantner, G., & Khatib, O. (2020). Controlling Ocean One: Human–robot collaboration for deep-sea manipulation. Journal of Field Robotics, 38(1), 28–51. doi:10.1002/rob.21960

Acknowledgements
Next to the team from the Stanford Robotics Laboratory, we would like to acknowledge our partners and collaborators who contributed so much to Ocean One's design, fabrication, and field deployments: Mitchell C. Barham; from KAUST (The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia): Christian Voolstra; from DRASSM (Department of Underwater and Submarine Archaeological Research of the French Ministry of Culture): Michel L'Hour, Olivier Tempier, and Denis Degez; from LIRMM (The Montpellier Laboratory of Computer Science, Robotics, and Microelectronics, France): Vincent Creuze.

Publisher
Wiley

Journal
Journal of Field Robotics

DOI
10.1002/rob.21960

Additional Links
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rob.21960

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