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Nissan’s autonomous drive technology for deep sea exploration

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Posted April 13, 2015

Around View Monitor technology, developed by Nissan to use in autonomous cars, will help remotely operated vehicles search for natural resources in the oceans. Nissant is providing this system to Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and one of the top manufacturers of robot crawlers in Japan, Topy Industries. It should help operate special robots underwater, avoid obstacles and navigate the ocean seafloor more easily.

Deep sea crawler robot with Nissan’s AVM technology can be used with greater precision and accuracy, avoiding obstacles and performing its tasks more efficiently. Image courtesy of nissannews.com

Deep sea crawler robot with Nissan’s AVM technology can be used with greater precision and accuracy, avoiding obstacles and performing its tasks more efficiently. Image courtesy of nissannews.com

Around View Monitor technology (AVM) is one of the core building blocks of Nissan’s autonomous drive technology. Company aims to bring autonomous vehicles to market by 2020. AVM provides a virtual 360-degree overview of a car from a bird’s-eye view – it creates an image how car looks from above. It helps not only for autonomous driving, but also provides assistance for drivers when parking or manoeuvring through tight spaces. In 2011 Nissan added Moving Object Detection to AVM and continues developing it, to make it safer and more beneficial for both autonomous and conventional cars. However, it is also very useful for other applications as ocean floor exploration.

The idea of the project is to enhance the Japan’s government agency’s ability to search deep underwater for natural resources using remotely operated vehicles. The role of AVM here is critical as its virtual bird’s-eye view can help operators of the crawlers avoid obstacles and navigate seafloor better. AVM here has three-dimensional picture processing capability for this purpose. Operators, controlling remotely operated vehicles from mother ships at sea, will be able to use them more efficiently and accurately navigate between rocks and other obstacles that are difficult to avoid using conventional camera technologies.

Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology has been at the frontier of the marine exploration for the past forty years. They are using unmanned underwater vehicles to capture images of life underwater, collect samples of soil or place and collect observational equipment. However, with only two-dimensional view these tasks were hard and scientists wanted to have 3D images and 360 degrees view around the vehicle. This is where Nissan’s AVM technology comes in hand. It helps computers to create virtual projection of the surroundings of the crawler to guide it across uneven surface of the seabed.

Scientists say that this technology will allow for greater efficiency and precision, will help to save time and collect more data about floor of the oceans. Deep waters of the oceans are one of the least known parts of our planet. Therefore such explorations can really deepen our knowledge about life as well as resources that are lying in virtually unknown territories.

Source: Nissan

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