More results from sea and air trials, including collaborations with farm animals

07 May 2014

More results from sea and air trials, including collaborations with farm animals

UAV tests being conducted on farm land next to the house we are staying in. However, there is substantial competition to get to and retrieve a vehicle. Grazing farm animals in particular are showing substantial interest in our experiments.
Kanna getting to the UAV after landing before the spectators do.
Our advanced (and very reliable) landing methods contrived in the field.
 A common sight in Tavira these days with Joel looking up as also our farm friends, human and not. As the Pilot, his job is to do (controlled) take offs and landing. This is harder than it sounds and we've definitely had a few hard landings with take offs being equally exciting with our hosts dog showing undue interest in a fast departing object.
A part of the UAV crew; João Pereira (FEUP/UPorto), Artur Zolich (NTNU, Norway) and Margarida Faria (FEUP/UPorto) after a (controlled) launch.
Rest and lunch at the farm house for the UAV crew.
Frederic and Kanna in the central meeting room of the farm house.
Heavy lift operations. João bringing the Light AUV onboard the Diplodus.
At the helm of the Diplodus the calmest person around, Captain Daniel navigating the not too easy Olhão estuary.
Meanwhile, at sea and an unceremonious launch of the very robust FEUP LAUV Xplorer from the R/V Diplodus. Renato Caldas and crew doing the honors.
Renato shows the very curious Diplodus crew how to maneuaver the Xplorer on the surface with an Android phone
Jamming the tight spaces of the control room for the Xplore on the R/V Diplodus. João, Renato and Zé Pinto from FEUP.
Diplodus chased by a small fishing boat.
And by a large vessel. Not easy being a research vessel!
In the depths of the Diplodus, the master mechanic is also the master chef. Food is a critical ingredient of life in Portugal. Even off shore at sea.
All at lunch on the Diplodus at the end of the day.
An equally exciting recovery of the Xplore. Not an optimal method, but managed by the Diplodus crew.
Zé Pinto is relieved to get his AUV back. At the aft deck of the R/V Diplodus with the crew.
Water temperature from the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Density) sensor on the XPlorer with the survey around a point shown by surfacing at the ends of the box.
End of day debrief and planning for next days ops.
End of day debrief and planning for next days ops.

Our UAV trials are courtesy of our farm house hosts and their neighbors who have been very gracious in the use of their property. While our trials involve repeated waypoint following to understand dynamic stability issues in the various levels of controllers we use, we've had substantial interest from the local community and not all human! Tests with minor code changes (often parametric) mean we need to fly a predetermined circuit over the fields with repeated take-offs and landings. Our take-offs are down with a hand-crafted catapult (design on the net), but our landing methods beat it all, as the picture(s) here show. Overall this Wednesday, the UAV made a number of flights, but not all fully satisfactory; and some of us were getting to be a little nervous since the UAV team had yet to see the tight confines of the Diplodus and the challenges that would likely incurr. 


Off shore, the AUV team on the R/V Diplodus had a good day. Not only it (re)confirmed the robustness (and simplicity) of AUV operations with the Xplorer being chucked off the aft deck of the ship. But the vehicle actually did multiple and continuous T-REX surveys, very much along the lines of what we want to be doing with the tagged Mola's next week with the start of the experiment. This time we simulated the "fish". Renato  was the luck guy in a small outboard enabled boat dragging a tethered SPOT and an ARGOS tag on the surface. The Xplorer was commanded to survey around this "fish";  with multiple runs, the crew thought it was a good time food. So the chef prepared a good round of chicken and a meal was had.


Tagging operations were done for the day. However our biology colleagues were busy ensuring that we had suitable 'backup' Mola's on shore should enough not be caught in the Tuna pen. With ten Mola's in a holding tank, it was decided that these Mola looked rather tired and a decision was made to release them to the sea and restock with fresh 'backups'. This is more exhausting than can be made clear; Lara and Ana (barely) staggered in to the farm house at the end of the day after a 4am departure earlier in the morning. All the time working the held Molas.


In summary, good day for AUVs, UAV team was running behind and Molas were going back to the sea and also getting replinished. The long day ended with the regular debrief and a quick and fast order of Pizza's.