Mr. Fletcher Thompson who is a Ph.D candidate at AMC in Launceston, presented to a combined IMarEST/RINA audience on 18th April. Fletcher's work focuses on the development of programming methodologies for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and his specific focus currently is on AUVs that must operate beneath ice shelves. A critical constraint of AUVs that operate beneath ice-shelves, highlighted by Fletcher, is that there is no communication currently between them and a control ship or other platform, and therefore they must be truly autonomous.
Fletcher introduced associated challenges and described them essentially as the task of reducing all complex operating scenario possibilities for the required mission to yes/no or 1/0 decisions. The resulting software engineering challenge is then to develop a matching neural network that will address all anticipated operating decisions and optimise the computing hardware, software and power demands necessary to deliver them.
Fletcher's presentation provided the audience with a glimpse of the complex reasoning and problem solving skills needed by those who study and work in this particular maritime engineering domain.