we have been working on automating our BlueROV2 using a visual navigation system. Our prototype system has been tested in a pool and we are working toward some field tests soon. The hardware and software components are diagrammed below, and some videos demonstrating early trials are available at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOlrNdwt2I4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtA06h7Ek5Q).
The key hardware components are a Stereolabs ZED mini interfaced to an NVIDIA Jetson TX1, which communicates to the BlueROV2 Raspberry Pi via Ethernet (substituting for the topside computer). All of the visual navigation software is run on the TX1. We’re using a slightly modified version of ORB-SLAM2 for localization and mapping (achieving ~10 fps with VGA images) and a basic trajectory controller to navigate predefined routes. The camera/computer enclosure was made by Sexton (http://www.thesextonco.com). The videos above show the ROV completing a ‘lawn mower’ pattern as our ultimate goal is to use the system for mapping marine ecosystems.