Positive results for the ¡VAMOS! underwater Positioning, Navigation and Awareness system
On the 29th and 30th of March, the ¡VAMOS! Consortium gathered at INESC TEC’s (Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science) facilities in Porto for a two-day meeting. During the meeting, participants cross-examined their work with the other project partners and the external Advisory Board.
After the discussions, INESC TEC organised a tour through their robotics design, construction and testing warehouse. During this tour, consortium members inspected the ongoing build and testing of the multi-component robotics system which INESC TEC are developing for VAMOS. Those present also viewed robots, sensors, and measurement equipment being developed for INESC TEC’s other projects related to deep sea exploration and mining.
In the ¡VAMOS! Project, INESC TEC are working together with project partners BMT, SMD, Damen, Fugro and ZfT to create an Awareness System, an underwater Positioning & Navigation System, and a Real-Time Grade Control System. These systems are expected to be finalised in the next 4 months.
The Awareness System will provide an overview of the actual mining activity and environment and will assist the operator in making decisions. It consists of Real Time Mine Modelling, an Environment Impact Monitoring System and a Mining Supervision System.
For the ´Real-Time Mine Modelling´, ZfT in cooperation with INESC and BMT are currently testing their developed algorithms on a multibeam sonar and terrestrial laser scanning data set from the Bejanca mine site in Portugal. Eventually they will integrate bathymetric sensor input to create a 3D representation of the underwater mine environment at the Lee Moor and Vareš mine test sites.
Project partner Fugro is developing a ‘Environmental Monitoring System’. During the meeting in Porto, partners came together to finalise the parameters to be measured during site testing.
ZfT, BMT, and SMD are working on a user interface for the ‘Mining Supervision System’, for use within the 3D mine environments. They have developed a Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and a training simulator for the remote operation of the underwater Mining Vehicle (MV) and floating Launch and Recovery Vessel (LARV). This will allow the operator of the MV to have a real-time visualisation of the changing site-specific mine environment. The HMI setup is currently in its testing phase and has been sent to the consortium for testing and feedback.
The second part of Work Package 4 is the development of a Positioning & Navigation System by INESC and ZfT.
In this section of the work detail, the two partners are working on a multi-sensor navigation system to be used by both the Mining Vehicle and the support AUV/HROV. A 3D sonar and a 2D multibeam for an acoustic positioning system are now being tested in a robotics testing pool, and firmware and software for all positioning systems are currently under development.
Also, a prototype for a rotating laser positioning system was finished and tested underwater at several sites. The uncalibrated structured light system (SLS) has now been studied further and the software for SLS image processing is in its testing phase.
For the last part of Work Package 4, INESC and SMD are developing and calibrating a real-time grade control system. Presently, the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) has been assembled and has been tested with different laser parameters, spectrometers and plasma features of several metals and minerals of interest. The aim is now to develop self-learning artificial intelligence to identify and classify the spectral results from the LIBS.
Developments in Work Package 4 are proceeding according to plan and we look forward to seeing the final results and equipment in action at the first mine site test later this year!
Article written by Edine Bakker and Cameron Sword of La Palma Research Centre SL.