Hierarchical probabilistic regression for AUV-based adaptive sampling of marine phenomena
2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Marine phenomena such as algal blooms can be detected using in situ measurements onboard autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), but understanding plankton ecology and community structure requires retrieval and analysis of water specimens. This process requires shipboard or manual sample collection, followed by onshore lab analysis which is time-consuming. Better understanding of the relationship between the observable environmental features and organism abundance would allow more precisely
... more precisely targeted sampling and thereby save time. In this work, we present an approach to learn and improve models that predict this relationship. Coupled with recent advances in AUV technology allowing selective retrieval of water samples, this constitutes a new paradigm in biological sampling. We use organism abundance models along with spatial models of environmental features learned immediately after AUV deployments to compute spatial distributions of organisms in the coastal ocean purely from in situ AUV data. We use Gaussian process regression along with the unscented transform to fuse the two models, obtaining both the mean and variance of the organism abundance estimates. The uncertainty in organism abundance predictions is used in a sampling strategy to selectively acquire new water specimens that improves the organism abundance models. Simulation results are presented demonstrating the advantage of performing hierarchical probabilistic regression. After the validation through simulation, we show predictions of organism abundance from models learned on lab-analyzed water sample data, and AUV survey data.