An Experimental Validation of Robotic Tactile Mapping in Harsh Environments such as Deep Sea Oil Well Sites

  • Francesco MazziniEmail author
  • Steven Dubowsky
Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR, volume 79)


This work experimentally validates the feasibility of a tactile exploration approach to map harsh environments such as deep sea oil well sites. The recent collapse of the offshore oil-drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the largest marine accidental disaster in history. Initial attempts to control the spill failed because of the very challenging environmental conditions. Knowing the shape and dimensions of the cracks in the leaking structure could have provided critical information to maneuver the Remotely Operated Vehicles. Here, a method developed in our previous work for tactile exploration of oil wells is applied to the problem of mapping underwater oil well sites. This method only requires a manipulator provided with joint encoders, and does not need any range, tactile or force sensor. This makes the approach robust and directly applicable to the mapping of underwater sites. This paper focuses on the experimental validation of the approach. Several experiments are described, showing the effectiveness of the approach in mapping unknown structured environment in short time, and demonstrating its reliability under very harsh conditions, such as irregular environment surfaces, surrounding viscous fluids and high manipulator joint backlash.


Viscous Fluid Harsh Environment Tactile Sensor Remotely Operate Vehicle Exploration Time 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Field and Space Robotics LaboratoryMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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