Leader-Follower Approach with an On-board Localization Scheme for Underwater Swarm Applications

  • Sarah Toonsi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


A striking feature of swarm robotics is its ability to solve complex tasks through simple local interactions between robots. Those interactions require a good infrastructure in communication and localization. However, in underwater environments, the severe attenuation of radio waves complicates communication and localization of different vehicles. Existing literature on underwater swarms use centralized network topology which require physical vicinity to the central node to ensure reliability. We are interested in building a decentralized underwater swarm with a decentralized network topology that only requires neighbour communication and self-localization. We develop a simple leader-follower interaction rule where the follower estimates the leader's position and acts upon that estimation. The leader shines a 450 nm diffracted blue laser that the follower uses to continuously align its light sensors to the light source. Furthermore, the leader's laser can be modulated for explicit communication purposes. The proposed leader-follower approach produces satisfactory results in surge and sway axes, however, it is not robust against illumination changes in the environment. We then proceed to solve the self-localization problem, by fusing Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) values with the thrust to estimate a robot’s position. In an Ardusub Simulation in the loop (SITL), the particle filter showed a slightly better performance than the Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) in the surge axis. However, both filters are prone to drifting after a while. We have observed that IMU values need to be filtered properly or another reliable sensor must be used alternatively.
Date of AwardAug 2019
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJeff Shamma (Supervisor)


  • Underwater Swarm
  • Swarm Robotics
  • Underwater Localization
  • Leader-follower

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