The patent-pending DEPTHX design is shown in Figures 1, 2, 3, and 4. It was designed for survivability and precision maneuvering capability in 3D space. The external geometry is an axi-symmetric ellipsoid of revolution, which eliminates snag points in unknown and cluttered environments. It also allows the vehicle to be “spun up” in autonomous mode with very low energy. This technique, combined with high-resolution sonar imaging systems and precision navigation allows for dense geo-registered 3D maps to be rapidly generated in unknown environments. It is this dense 3D point cloud that serves as the feedstock to the 3D-SLAM navigation engine described below.
- First mobile robotic system of any kind to implement 3D-SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) as part of a real-time navigation engine.
- First autonomous robotic system to explore and map a subterranean cavern (a hydrothermal spring).
- First robotic system to autonomously decide where, when and how to collect a biological sample.