Feb 18, 2014 4:48 PM by MELISSA CANONE
Today, there was a demonstration in Morgan City of the Anaconda, a boat designed for military use, by Swiftships Shipbuilders LLC and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who represents Louisiana's 3rd congressional district, was also present at the demonstration.
UL researchers (faculty and students) working with Swiftships are adding autonomous navigation to the Anaconda. Autonomous naviagtion integrades sensors and technology that will enable the boat to to be self-driven. Swiftships enlisted the University's help to enhance the Anaconda because of its expertise in control systems, sensors and robotics.
"Our relationship with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is a significant piece of our developing team. The application of autonomous technology has far-reaching implications for our entire inland shipping industry," said Eric Geibel, the director of special programs for Swiftships.
The Anaconda is a 35-foot special operations craft riverine that is capable of 50+ knots and can carry up to 14 passengers.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette makes an ideal collaborator with the Morgan City, La.-based Swiftships, thanks to their experience creating the autonomous CajunBot all-terrain vehicle in 2004. The CajunBot twice competed alongside other universities in Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge events. Dr. Arun Lakhotia, a professor of computer science, and Joshua Vaughan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will attempt to apply lessons learned from the CajunBot toward the creation of an autonomous Anaconda.
"We'll begin with some basic goals, such as getting the boat to operate autonomously in relatively calm water and to follow simple patterns, such as a straight line or simple turns. As the project continues, we'll be developing more complex tasks," said Lakhotia.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will be the lead developer for the autonomous technology that will be applied to the Anaconda.