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Ruscio, F., Tani, S., Bresciani, M., Caiti, A., & Costanzi, R. (2022). Visual-based Navigation Strategy for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in Monitoring Scenarios. IFAC-PapersOnLine, 55(31), 369-374.

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Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) performing visual surveys aimed at the preservation of marine environments are equipped with optical sensors for image acquisition. In addition, an altitude sensor is usually installed on-board to control the distance from the seabed and avoid possible collisions. Within this context, this work proposes a navigation strategy for underwater monitoring scenarios, which fuses a single bottom-looking camera and altitude information for linear velocity estimation. This allows to exploit the payload already required by monitoring activities also for navigation purposes, thus reducing the number of sensors onboard the AUV. The linear velocity is provided by a monocular Visual Odometry (VO) technique that switches between homography and epipolar models for motion estimation and leverages altitude measurements to overcome the scale ambiguity issue. The navigation framework relies on an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) that combines visual-based linear velocity with attitude and depth measurements for trajectory estimation. The proposed strategy has been tested on real data acquired by using Zeno AUV, equipped with bottom-looking camera, DVL, Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS), and depth sensor. The performance has been assessed comparing the estimated linear velocities with the DVL readings, and the VO-based estimated trajectory with that provided by a DVL-based dead-reckoning approach, yielding to a maximum absolute error of 2.16m for a reference trajectory of 166m. Given the promising results, this strategy could represent an affordable solution for underwater navigation where visibility conditions allow the use of optical sensors.

 "Keywords: {Autonomous underwater vehicles, Visual odometry, Estimation and filtering, Robot Navigation, Programming and Vision, Perception and sensing}"