Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2023-12-11, 14:38 authored by Jalil Francisco Chavez GalavizJalil Francisco Chavez Galaviz

The growing movement toward sustainable use of ocean resources is driven by the pressing need to alleviate environmental and human stressors on the planet and its oceans. From monitoring the food web to supporting sustainable fisheries and observing environmental shifts to protect against the effects of climate change, ocean observations significantly impact the Blue Economy. Acknowledging the critical role of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) in achieving persistent ocean exploration, this research addresses challenges focusing on the limited energy and storage capacity of AUVs, introducing a comprehensive underwater docking solution with a specific emphasis on enhancing the terminal homing phase through innovative vision algorithms leveraging neural networks.

The primary goal of this work is to establish a docking procedure that is failure-tolerant, scalable, and systematically validated across diverse environmental conditions. To fulfill this objective, a robust dock detection mechanism has been developed that ensures the resilience of the docking procedure through \comment{an} improved detection in different challenging environmental conditions. Additionally, the study addresses the prevalent issue of data sparsity in the marine domain by artificially generating data using CycleGAN and Artistic Style Transfer. These approaches effectively provide sufficient data for the docking detection algorithm, improving the localization of the docking station.

Furthermore, this work introduces methods to compress the learned docking detection model without compromising performance, enhancing the efficiency of the overall system. Alongside these advancements, a station-keeping algorithm is presented, enabling the mobile docking station to maintain position and heading while awaiting the arrival of the AUV. To leverage the sensors onboard and to take advantage of the computational resources to their fullest extent, this research has demonstrated the feasibility of simultaneously learning docking detection and marine wildlife classification through multi-task and transfer learning. This multifaceted approach not only tackles the limitations of AUVs' energy and storage capacity but also contributes to the robustness, scalability, and systematic validation of underwater docking procedures, aligning with the broader goals of sustainable ocean exploration and the blue economy.


ONR N00014-20-1-2085


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Nina Mahmoudian

Additional Committee Member 2

Laura Blumenschein

Additional Committee Member 3

David Cappelleri

Additional Committee Member 4

Mo Rastgaar