Current Research

Research Areas

The Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging is currently involved in multiple areas marine robotics research to develop autonomous technology as well as supporting other research groups with a precise sensing platform.

Our robotics research is focussed around improving the robustness, reliability and autonomy of Topcat. We are currently researching in three main areas:

  1. Mission planning
  2. Control systems
  3. Object recognition and classification

This research has led to the ongoing development of state of the art predictive control systems and new mission planning algorithms which we will be testing out on Topcat in the near future.

Future Research

Our future research plan includes developing Topcat as a mothership for other unmanned vehicles such as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to provide broader sensing capability.

Vessel Applications

Sandbar Monitoring

Topcat is currently invovled in a data gathering task for the Flinders University School of the Environment. This project aims to monitor and model the movement of sand along the South Australian Metropolitan coastline and Coorong areas. Data was originally innacurate and not repeatable as it was gathered manually on a kayak. Topcat can solve these problems, providing accurate, repeatable data collection all year round.

Coastal Environmental Monitoring

Electric motors and low draft allow vessels such as Topcat to access protected marine parks and very shallow waters. Combining this with the onboard sensing technologies gives access to unprecedented qunatities of precise data for government, research and conservation groups. For example Topcat could be used to monitor the growth of sea grasses or the bleaching of coral.

Maritime Surveillance

Maritime security and border protection operations are becoming increasingly important and costly. Autonomous surface vessel technology has the potential to revolutionise these operations by providing tireless surveillance craft that can safely monitor exclusive economic zones for illegal activity.