Experimental Validation of Robotic Manifold Tracking in Gyre-Like Flows

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Conference Proceeding

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In this paper, we present a first attempt toward experimental validation of a multi-robot strategy for tracking manifolds and Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) in flows. LCS exist in natural fluid flows at various scales, and they are time-varying extensions of stable and unstable manifolds of time invariant dynamical systems. In this work, we present the first steps toward experimentally validating our previously proposed real-time manifold and LCS tracking strategy that relies solely on local measurements. Although we have validated the strategy in simulations using analytical flow models, experimental flow data, and actual ocean data, the strategy has never been implemented on an actual robotic platform. We demonstrate the tracking strategy using a team of micro autonomous surface vehicles (mASVs) in our laboratory testbed and investigate the feasibility of the strategy with vehicles operating in an actual fluid environment. Our experimental results show that the team of mASVs can successfully track LCS using a simulated velocity field, and we present preliminary results showing the feasibility of a team of mASVs tracking manifolds in real flows using only local measurements obtained from their onboard flow sensors.



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