The goal of this project was to develop a strap-on navigation, sensor, and computer control system that could be used to direct a variety of commercial off the shelf (COTS) skimmers and vessels to autonomously maneuver and skim the oil from a given area with automatic tracking and reporting of progress and performance. This autonomous oil skimmer (AOS) system consisted of a commercial of the shelf (COTS) skimmer and vessel, a COTS autopilot system, a high precision navigation package, oil thickness and recovery efficiency sensors, and a custom computer algorithm. This system was designed to monitor the thickness of the oil being skimmed in real time and track oil thickness versus position as it was skimming. Based on the oil thickness gradients, the tracking algorithm directed the vessel/skimmer to head in the direction of thickest oil concentration. As oil was recovered, statistics on oil thickness and oil recovery rate as a function of position were tabulated for real time performance monitoring. During this effort Alion developed a proof of concept prototype that was tested at the Ohmsett facility as well as at their facility.
The project is complete and all deliverables have been received. The final report is posted below.