Autonomous Control System
Each barge has an autonomous control system (ACS) using the sensor fusion data to maximize the safety and operational integrity of the individual barge. Hazard input, barge orientation, weather, energy, position, communication, and system operational analysis are part of the decision set variables. The barge pods extend the ACS system management. The individual barge ACS becomes a system to be analyzed by the other pod barges increasing operational integrity. A network mesh is used between the barge pod elements. Most autonomous control systems are not designed for integrated operation. Presently, autonomous drive cars do not receive data from other cars, pedestrians, bicycles or other moving objects. An integrated ACS within the barge pod develops a broader control net. Data entry into the ACS net by other sources such as locks improves the ACS decision processing. An aircraft flight management system gets information from Air Traffic Control when an airport such as O’Hare is experiencing delays. A sign on the highway that says, “Speed limit reduced for traffic control” is not processed by autonomous automobiles and trucks. A lock experiencing delays becomes important data to the barge pod ACSs to maximize energy use.
Remote monitoring is a design component. Any information being used by the ACS is transmitted to an off-site controller. Visual and data links are provided. The purpose of the controller would be to manage control system redundancies and to validate or initiate inertial or crash stop procedures. An important tool of the controller would be the ability to direct transfer of one barge ACS to another or initiate the use of the backup ACS on an individual barge.