Commercial underwater robotic vehicles can be categorized into Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROVs) connected to a support vessel with a tether or Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) pre-programmed to fulfill a mission. We present in this work a man-portable Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) which is semi-autonomous, thus contributing to fill the gap between the two extreme levels of autonomy at which ROVs and AUVs operate. We define semi-autonomous operations as autonomous operations supervised in real-time by a human operator who can interact with the UUV at any time to conduct a specific task or to change the UUV’s mission. This type of operations is enabled by hybrid capabilities, defined as a UUV’s ability to be remotely operated or autonomous, and by high-bandwidth wireless communication to allow a human operator to supervise and interact with the UUV. Path following capabilities are provided to the UUV by implementing an Adaptive Feedback Linearization Controller in its autopilot firmware. The resulting hybrid capabilities and the performance of the control scheme are presented using a Software In The Loop simulator. High-bandwidth wireless communication is achieved by equipping the UUV with a LED modem and a Pan-Tilt system to maintain Line of Sight communication with another stationary LED modem connected to a topside station. Experimental tests in a wave tank showed that a 3.5Mbps full duplex wireless optical link could be set up over 7m and maintained despite the motion of the UUV.

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