The Iver Simulator and Its Impact on AUV Operations
Simulators are exciting technology that are being used across a number of industries for designing software, mission planning and operator training. These hardware and software simulators help operators understand behaviors in a low-cost, low-risk environment. Operators are able to practice missions without fear of damage, while gaining first-hand knowledge of the equipment. Similarly, immediate feedback is available to operators that can be used to analyze and improve mission planning and execution.
The majority of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) mission is conducted underwater, where it is difficult to observe and quantify in real-time and also makes post-mission analysis challenging. To simplify these challenges, L3 Technologies is pleased to introduce its Iver Simulator (Figure 1). This hardware and software package simulates the Iver AUV and a full 3D physics based environment for Iver mission planning and post mission analysis. The simulator can be used for front seat mission testing/characterizing, backseat software development, classroom scenario-based training, post-mission analysis, internal software development/testing, and backseat/mission-planning competitions. Users can script events including sensor-degradation/failure, actuator degradation/failure, and environmental perturbations.
The Iver Simulator features support for both Iver3 and Iver4 platforms. Vehicle operators interact with the simulator in the same exact manner as they interact with an actual Iver using the same equipment they have grown comfortable with during normal vehicle operations. Users plan, upload, and run missions using our VectorMap software and the vehicle UVC software with the same procedures as the physical vehicle. The simulator is currently loaded with a pre-defined environment. The modeled vehicle is then “driven” by the hardware simulator through the simulated environment based on the virtual sensor data generated in real-time (Figure 2).
Since the hardware simulator is running the same software as the real vehicle, the simulator logs all sensor data for the post-mission analysis (PMA) in the same formats/disk locations/etc. as the real vehicle. During PMA, operators can use the vehicle log information from real or simulated missions to generate a 3D world based on mission data. This world can then be explored on the operator’s computer or through virtual-reality systems for an immersive experience (Figure 3). The PMA (Figure 4) also features incremental world generation during playback, volumetric data analysis tools, vehicle performance analysis, and data export to industry standard 3D and GIS formats.
The Iver Simulator will help new and experienced vehicle operators plan better missions and test existing and newly developed behaviors while reducing operations expenses and liabilities. In addition, it serves as a valuable training tool that gives operators a safe and affordable environment to improve their mission skills, test new approaches, and maintain skills.