Innovation in underwater robotics: SeaExplorer off the coast at Villefranche-sur-Mer

July 3, 2012 - via Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer

The underwater robot SeaExplorer, supported by Pôle Mer PACA, will be presented at the Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer this Thursday 5th July.

The SeaExplorer underwater glider is a new type of robot that is used to measure a variety of ocean properties between the surface and a depth of 700m. A series of intensive tests of the SeaExplorer is currently underway between Nice and Corsica.
SeaExplorer was designed and developed with the support of the Pôle Mer PACA and the company ACSA, in its capacity as an Industrial Architect within the scope of a partnership between some of the region's research organisations and SMEs including Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche-sur-mer (Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer), Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea), COM Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille (Marseille Oceanography Centre) and the companies ACSA & ACRI. The project, initially accredited by Pôle Mer PACA, has benefited from financing from the single inter-ministerial funds (FUI).
A presentation of the underwater robot will take place before its next departure into the "deep blue sea" on Thursday 5th July, between 10.00am and 11.00am at the Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer.
This new mission aims to asses both SeaExplorer's technical capacities and its scientific potential. The SeaExplorer is currently fitted with miniature sensors which are used to measure physical (temperature, salinity), chemical or biological properties. The modular design of the vehicle will eventually enable it to carry other sensors, including some that are already in development.
Within the Oceanographic Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer (LOV), the Autonomous Observations Oceanographic group (OAO) focuses in particular on the biogeochemical and optical properties of the Oceans. As part of this research, researchers use the data obtained by underwater gliders for a better understanding of how the Ocean works and its role in a context of environmental change.

Heavily involved in the technological development of the SeaExplorer, OAO has actively supported and contributed to the implementation of this innovative technology. This underwater glider is the first French robotic system of its type. It will now supplement the "range" of vehicles already used by the laboratory and enable it to perform new explorations.
Original in its design, the SeaExplorer features particularly interesting characteristics for its scientific missions:
-          unrivalled endurance and consumption
-          highly modular with the capacity to carry payloads (sensors)
-          remote navigation via satellite communications
-          a hydrodynamic profile and top speed of one knot guarantees good navigational accuracy in currents, while maximising the distance travelled over several months of a mission
-          a rechargeable battery allows easy repacking between missions without opening the hull, or a weighing operation in the water.
John Pusceddu (CNRS Côte d’Azur)
Maryam Cousin (OOV)
Carolyn Scheurle (LOV)

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Author:John Pusceddu

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