Aries was developed as a research and development platform at the Naval Postgraduate School. The hull was outfitted in the Fall of 1999, and became operational in the spring of 2000 to support graduate level vehicle research.
Dimensions and Endurance:
The vehicle weighs 225 Kg and measures approximately 3 m long, 0.4 m wide and 0.25 m high. The hull is constructed of ¼” thick 6061 aluminum and forms the main pressure vessel that houses all electronics, computers, and batteries. A flooded fiberglass nose is used to house the external sensors and power on/off switches and status indicators. It is capable of a top speed of 3.5 knots and is powered by six 12 volt rechargeable lead acid batteries. The endurance is approximately 4 hours at top speed, 20 hours hotel load only. The ARIES was primarily designed for shallow water operations and can operate safely down to 30 meters. However, with hull strengthening in certain areas, a depth of 100 meters may be attained.
Propulsion and Motion Control Systems:
Main propulsion is achieved using twin ½ Hp electric drive thrusters located at the stern. During normal flight, heading and depth is controlled using upper bow and stern rudders and a set of bow planes and stern planes. Since the control fins are ineffective during very slow or zero forward speed maneuvers, vertical and lateral cross-body thrusters are used to control surge, sway, heave, pitch, and yaw, motions.
Hardware Components of the NPS ARIES
The sensor suite used for navigation includes a 1200 kHz RD Instruments Navigator DVL that also contains a TCM2 magnetic compass. This instrument measures the vehicle ground speed, altitude, and magnetic heading. Angular rates and accelerations are measured using a Systron Donner 3-axis Motion Pak IMU. While surfaced, carrier phase differential GPS (DGPS CP) is available to correct any navigational errors accumulated during the submerged phases of a mission.
Sonar and Video Sensors:
A Tritech ST725 scanning sonar or an ST1000 profiling sonar is used for obstacle avoidance and target acquisition/reacquisition. The sonar heads can scan continuously through 360 degrees of rotation or swept through a defined angular sector. A fixed focus wide-angle video camera is located in the nose and connected to a DVC recorder. The computer is interfaced to the recorder and controls on/off and start/stop record functions. While recording, the date, time, vehicle position, depth and altitude is superimposed on the video image.
Radio Modems are used for high bandwidth command, control, and system monitoring while the vehicle is deployed and surfaced. While submerged, an acoustic modem is used for low bandwidth communications. In the laboratory
environment, a high-speed thin-wire ethernet connection is used for software development and mission data