Divers operate in harsh and poorly monitored environments in which the slightest unexpected disturbance, technical malfunction, or lack of attention can have catastrophic consequences. They manoeuvre in complex 3D environments and carry cumbersome equipment while performing their missions. To overcome these problems, the CADDY project aimed to establish an innovative setup between a diver and companion autonomous robots (underwater and surface) that exhibit cognitive behaviour through learning, interpreting, and adapting to the diver’s behaviour, physical state, and actions.
The CADDY project replaced a human buddy diver with an autonomous underwater vehicle and added a new autonomous surface vehicle to improve monitoring, assistance, and overall safety of the diver’s mission. The resulting system plays a threefold role similar to that of a human buddy diver: the buddy “observer” continuously monitors the diver; the buddy “slave” is the diver's “extended hand” during CADDY concept underwater operations; and the buddy “guide” leads the diver through the underwater environment.
The advances made within the three core research fields ("Seeing the Diver", "Understanding the Diver" and "Diver-Robot Cooperation and Control") demonstrate scientific excellence in terms improved systems functionality, quality, and performance. The achieved technical developments in the form of the multicomponent robotic system, and the development of acoustic sensors, the DiverNet sensor network, etc. demonstrate technical excellence that significantly contributed to the area of marine robotics.
The developed features were demonstrated in real-world scenarios during two validation trials in 2016 and 2017 in Croatia. For this purpose, end-users from the areas of underwater archaeology and the search & rescue community helped validate the performance of the overall CADDY system.
A multicomponent system of marine robots and vehicles was developed, consisting of the BUDDY AUV, custom-made for interaction with divers, equipped with an underwater tablet as a means of interaction with the diver, with custom software and a specially constructed waterproof casing, a stereo camera, mono camera, and multibeam sonar; and the MEDUSA ASV modified to serve as the surface vehicle in the CADDY scenario. In order to ensure reliable communication, a new generation of small-scale USBL and acoustic modems has been developed together with a new calibration procedure, resulting in significantly improved accuracies in azimuth and elevation errors. These acoustic modems developed by UNEW have achieved commercialisation as Seatrac acoustic modems and USBL via Blueprint Subsea. The product is now being actively marketed leading to substantial orders. All developed code is open-source.
CADDY was responsible for starting up a new series of workshops “EMRA - Workshop on EU-funded Marine Robotics and Applications” to bridge the gap between industry, end-users, and academia in the marine robotics industry. CADDY partners involved directly in marine robotics have become members of euRobotics, an international non-profit association for both academic and industrial stakeholders in European robotics, collaborating with the European Commission to develop and implement a strategy and a roadmap for research, technological development, and innovation in robotics.
3. Implementation - Goals and Achievements
The CADDY project had an ambitious list of goals and managed to achieve great advancements in all of them:
Development of a cooperative multi-component system capable of interacting with a diver;
Establishing a robust and flexible underwater sensing network;
Achieving full understanding of conscious and unconscious diver behaviour;
Defining and implementing the execution of cognitive guidance and control algorithms;
Developing a cognitive mission (re)planner.
Some achievements in numbers:
There are 8 products/services developed using CADDY-incubated technologies identified to have a commercialisation potential, two of which have TRL 9 (Technology readiness level) – actual system proven in operational environment. The rest are either TRL 6-7 - technology/prototype demonstrated in relevant/operational environment, or TRL 4-5 - technology validated.
The project was represented through:
• 14 exhibitions
• 21 presentations and public events
• 50 press releases
• 22 media appearances
• 47 internet portal reports
On the scientific side of things, the CADDY project boasts:
• 46 conferences attended, primarily: Oceanology International London 2016, Mediterranean Conference on Control and Automation (MED'14), European Robotics Forum – ERF 2016, MTS/IEEE OCEANS'15 Genova Conference & Exhibit, 10th IFAC Conference on Control Applications in Marine Systems (CAMS'16)
• 4 special sessions:
Marine robotics and applications at Mediterranean Conference on Control and Automation (MED'14), Palermo, Italy
IFAC World Congress 2014 Invited Track (4 sessions) on Navigation, Control, and Sensing in the Marine Environment, Cape Town, South Africa, August 2014
FP7 CADDY Project Workshop Dissemination special session at OCEANS'15, Genova, Italy
Robotics in the Western Balkans session at the European Robotics Forum – ERF 2016, 20 March, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
• 55 scientific (peer reviewed) publications,out of which 14 journal papers