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Kamikaze: Investigational Autonomous Underwater Vehicle For Collaborative Research And Undergraduate Education And Training

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Ocean, Marine, and Coastal Engineering Topics

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.853.1 - 11.853.10



Permanent URL

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Paper Authors


Stephen Wood Florida Tech

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Dr. Wood is an Assistant Professor in Ocean Engineering at the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems

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Brian Howell Western Carolina University

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Dr. Howell is the Program Director for Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Combining teaching, research, and engagement has always been a goal of Engineering Technology faculty. Finding “real world” applications which can be implemented at the undergraduate level has always proved challenging as well. One method of achieving this is to define an application area which can be managed by responsible faculty and which can be broken into small enough tasks to be suitable for completion by succeeding years of undergraduate students in their capstone design activity.

At Western Carolina University and Florida Institute of Technology, a project has been undertaken which is achieving many of these goals. The Kamikaze Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) is currently under continuous development for specific missions, and is being supported by research students from three different programs at the two institutions. The modular design of the vehicle has opened it to be an educational platform as well for undergraduate design activities in Ocean Engineering (FIT), Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (WCU), and Engineering Technology (WCU). Sparked by demands from the ocean community, Kamikaze has well defined missions as follows: 1) Explore geochemical events of interest using feature based navigation; 2) Explore and study coral reef ecological features; 3) Be able to recognize and track events in various sensorial fields. Given this basic charter, a vehicle design was broken into small tasks. This paper describes the baseline vehicle and the way in which tasks were partitioned over multiple student groups and the results in terms of student involvement and vehicle behavior as well as plans for the future.


Teachers are always looking for “Real World” applications which capture the imagination of students as they progress through the educational process. NASA for years has encouraged students using space applications1 but accessibility to the space environment is problematic at best. The marine environment is in many ways as rigorous in terms of limits on design, and as described in various manuscripts, 80% of the ocean environment remains unexplored2. In addition, conventional ocean exploration requires extensive financial support for manned operations, thus there is a tremendous impetus for automated systems to assist in marine operations.

It is in this broad picture that the concept of having students design systems for marine use comes into view. In its basic form, many schools have utilized this to help students at various levels involved in the engineering process3, 4. Such organizations as AUVSI5 have even arranged competitions for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV’s) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV’s) for several years. But typically, the projects

Wood, S., & Howell, B. (2006, June), Kamikaze: Investigational Autonomous Underwater Vehicle For Collaborative Research And Undergraduate Education And Training Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--418

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