Course Unit Profile

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Basic Information


Course Unit Code: 280II

Level of course unit

Second Cycle (Laurea magistrale) Degree Programme in Robotics and Automation Engineering

Year of study

Second year

Semester when the course is delivered

Second semester

Number of ECTS credits allocated: 6

Name of Lecturer(s):

Prof.: Andrea Caiti

Language of instruction


General Information

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the course will have the ability to design, plan, conduct and analyze the outcome of at-sea experiment for marine geophysical exploration using automated, semi-autonomous and autonomous systems.

Students are expected to acquire:
knowledge about underwater acoustic propagation;
knowledge about marine robotic systems (Remotely Operated Vehicles - ROV, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles - AUV, oceanographic gliders, Autonomous Surface Vehicles - ASV);
knowledge about underwater acoustic localization and communication systems.

Course contents

Basic oceanography and acoustic propagation: speed of sound and oceanographic variability, oceanographic measurement systems; acoustic propagation with ray theory: interference, attenuation; ambient noise and scattering; the sonar equations and the range-resolution compromise; wave equations, helmholtz equation, Green function.

Acoustic Systems for seabed exploration: echosounders, multi-beam echosounders, side-scan sonars, sub-bottom profilers.

Marine robotics and autonomous systems: Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs); Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs); oceanographic gliders; Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV). Kinematic and dynamic modeling; reduced complexity dynamic models; guidance and control systems; acoustic localization and gauging systems.

Mission planning and analysis

Specific Information

Prerequisites, co-requisites, as a prerequisite for further study





Prerequisite for


Mode of delivery


face to face


Not mandatory

Teaching methods

Learning activities

Recommended or required reading

Recommended reading includes:

J.M. Hovem: "Marine Acoustics", Penisula Publishing, 2012;
F. Jensen, W. Kuperman, M.B. Porter, H. Schmidt: "Computational Ocean Acoustics", Springer, 1994;
X. Lurton: "Introduction to underwater acoustics", Springer, 2002;
P. Blondel: "The Handbook of side scan sonar", Springer, 2009;
T. Fossen: "Handbook of Marine Craft Hydrodynamics and Motion Control", Wiley, 2009;
T. Fossen: "Guidance and Control of Ocean Vehicles", Wiley, 1994
R.H. Stewart: "Introduction to Physical Oceanography", University of Texas,

Further bibliographic material (technical/scientific papers) will be indicated.

Assessment methods and criteria

Assessment methods

Assessment criteria

The student will be assessed on his/her demonstrated ability to discuss a case-study of an at-sea operation (e.g., search and rescue, off-shore field maintenance, sediment mapping, etc.) to be conducted in autonomous or semi-autonomous mode. The student must be able to justify every step of the planned operation, from the selection of the measurement systems to their installation on board of marine robots and to the procedures of operation. The student must demonstrate the ability to evaluate the risks connected to the planned operation, the timing and the costs.

Work placement


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