What’s better than an autonomously controlled micro sub in a pool?
Answer: A whole swarm of them in the open ocean locating sources of pollution and improving our understanding of oceanic processes and climate phenomena.
This is the goal of the Field Estimation and Source Localization with Micro Autonomous Underwater Vehicles project at the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH).
The team have created a very agile 3D test vehicle called HippoCampus (presumably named after a small region of the brain that is primarily associated with memory and spatial navigation!) that is suitable for hydrobatic maneuvers.
The vehicle is assembled from off-the-shelf components, 3D printed parts and printed circuit boards. It is autonomously controlled via a Pixhawk and onboard sensors (3D ACC / Gyro / MAG / Baro) running a customised fork of PX4 (Github repo here).
You can check out the test videos in the pool below. I particularly like the “Free HippoCampus µAUV” at 30 seconds when the HippoCampus attempts to escape – presumably trying to make it to the ocean and start work!