Beluga is a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles deployed in a 20,000 gallon water tank facility. Beluga is an autonomous submersible built as part of the Bio-Ex project. A fleet of these vehicles uses automated coordinated control and human-in-the-loop algorithms in research applications.
The Belugas can move in the horizontal plane and vertically up and down. Each is made passively stable in pitch and roll by neutralizing the buoyant body with a ballast below. There are just two actuators on board: one propeller-driven thruster protruding vertically through the body and a second vectored, propeller-driven thruster extending from the tail. Measurement from an on-board pressure sensor is used to compute the Beluga’s vertical position. An overhead camera system and video processing provides real-time horizontal orientation and position of vehicles.
The Beluga project has been documented in several theses:
Parsons and Preston, The Beluga Project: Development of a Testbed for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, senior thesis, 2011.
Stewart, “Multi-Vehicle Robotic Testbed,” Chapter 2 of PhD thesis, 2012.
Undergraduate research experiences
A number of undergraduate students have contributed to the Beluga project through summer research and Senior thesis work:
Clayton Flanders, Richard Harris, John Preston
Brian Fishbein, Peter Iskaros, Valerie Karpov
Blake Parsons, John Preston
David Clifton, David Heinz
David Clifton and David Heinz’s experiences in the lab were the subject of a short video produced by the Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science: