NAVSEA unmanned systems group

Collaborative Air, Sea, and Underwater Autonomous Vehicles


This project aims to design, build, and test a team of air, sea, and underwater robots that will autonomously collaborate to complete tasks in the water.  Currently, the team has designed and built several vehicles (small surface boat, underwater vehicle, and quadcopter), and more will be created as the project grows. One goal is to use these robots to collectively complete obstacle courses on the surface of and below the water.  Tasks include navigation of a maze, following of underwater pipes, identification of sonar locations, autonomous docking, search and identification of a target in an area, spraying a target with a water gun, etc.  As the project progresses, the goal is to increase the level of teamwork among the robots and to explore how teamwork can be used to make the robots more efficient in completing their tasks or able to complete more complex tasks. However, there are numerous challenges in trying to get the robots to successfully collaborate, including maintaining communications, performing autonomous task allocation, and executing collaborative decision making. The team is taking a spiral approach to tackling the challenges, and is focused on using the research as a tool for educating students in design, autonomy, electronics, etc.

Issues Involved or Addressed

Development of autonomy algorithms to complete tasks, development of algorithms for robots to work collaboratively, solving key challenges in maritime communications, design and build of collaborative robot team, autonomous launch and recovery of smaller robots from WAM-V, impact of weather on collaboration.

Methods and Technologies

  • LiDAR
  • SONR
  • GPS
  • Propulsion
  • Computer Vision
  • Collaborative Computing
  • Quadcopters
  • Communication Technologies

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Environmental Engineering

Meeting Schedule & Location






Klaus 1440

Team Advisors

Michael Steffens
Daniel Cooksey


NAVSEA unmanned systems group