With the advent of reliable unmanned systems, the U.S. Navy’s approach to mine countermeasures (MCM) is evolving from surface ships, helicopters, and explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) teams—the “MCM Triad”—directly hunting and sweeping mines, to unmanned systems conducting the most hazardous phases of these operations. The reasons for this shift in MCM include (1) the proliferation of sea mines, (2) the increased sophistication of mines, and (3) the reduction of U.S. MCM forces.More
The Need for a full complement of oceanographic research assets and infrastructure to address critical environmental and societal issues relating to our oceans has been well-defined by a number of Federal agencies. Global Oceans presents here a new model for optimizing an old idea: the chartering of chartering non-research vessels for scientific research to fill infrastructure gaps and augment existing resources. The distinguishing qualities of this model are that it is both Adaptable to the science needs of each cruise ans Scalable globally, including to remote and understudied geographic regions. It is demonstrated here that the Global Oceans model accomplishes these objectives in a way that is functionally and operationally on a par with dedicated research vesels.More
“With AUV’s this is a really exciting time because there is a strong direction for the navy to go to unmanned vehicles for safety, cost reduction, manning reduction and new environments that are being explored. So there is a big drive for all military forces actually to explore what part of the job can be done with unmanned vehicles. So for the first time there is a huge buy-in.”More
In a mission lasting almost 7Hr, the autonomous underwater vehicle SeaCat made by Atlas Electronik dived through a water supply tunnel 24km long in the vicinity of Stuttgart, sucessfully investigating the tube for damage. with this survey on 6 march 2012, it at last became possible to inspect the tunnel known as "Albstollen" in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg for the first time in 40 years.More
Drawing upon four decades of experience in developing leading-edge manned and unmanned subsea technology solutions for military and commercial customers, Lockheed Martin has developed a "game changing" capability to inspect and evaluate subsea facilities. Safer, faster, more efficient, and less expensive, the Marlin Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) system offers a subsea operating company the potential for dramatically improved bottom line.
Last year, the Marlin AUV System sucessfullt completed sea trials and demonstrated its ability to rapidly inspect and generate real-time 3D models of various fixed platforms for oil and gas operating companies. The Marlin AUV System offers substantial improvements in cost, performance, safety, and reliability and will revolutionize the way underwater inspections are conducted and will lead to more cost effective operations in deepwater and/or remote subsea fields. Lockheed Martin will make the Marlin AUV commercially available to oil and gas companies in late 2012.More
Following up on tantalizing discoveries made during a 2003 trip to the gulf, MBARI researchers will be returning to the little-explored region in February 2012 for a three-month expedition. Web visitors can read the scientists’ daily research updates and follow their progress on the expedition homepage.
Serving as a “scout” for the Western Flyer is a second MBARI research vessel, the Zephyr. For this expedition, Zephyr will carry an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that uses sound to create detailed maps of the seafloor. These maps will help the ROV pilots find their way around the ocean bottom and will give scientists some ideas of particularly interesting places to investigate.
During spring 2012, MBARI researchers are making a long-awaited return to the Gulf of California, the 1,130-kilometer-long (700-mile-long) finger of water that separates the peninsula of Baja California from mainland Mexico. The expedition, which runs from February 4 to May 10, will build on many of the exciting discoveries made during MBARI’s first trip to the gulf in 2003.
The Gulf of California holds special scientific appeal because of its nutrient-rich surface waters filled with life, its extensive layer of oxygen-poor water, and the many hydrothermal vents, undersea volcanoes, and zig-zag faults that have shaped its seafloor. In addition to studying these diverse physical environments and the fascinating creatures that inhabit them, MBARI’s scientists hope to compare life in the gulf to life in the extensively studied ecosystems of Monterey Bay. In particular, the warm, low-oxygen waters of the gulf may offer a window into the future of Monterey Bay under some climate change scenarios.
Like a scientific relay, this 12-week expedition is divided into several legs, each led by a different scientist with a different research focus. Some scientists are measuring ocean currents, while others are studying the diverse animals that swim and drift in the gulf’s clear water. Still others are investigating the chemistry of the seawater and the active geologic features on the gulf’s seafloor.
In early February, two of MBARI’s research vessels, the R/V Western Flyer and the R/V Zephyr, depart for the gulf. Scientists on the Western Flyer will begin conducting research during their trip south. The Zephyr will travel ahead of the Western Flyer, carrying an autonomous underwater vehicle to map the seafloor of the gulf. Scientists aboard the Western Flyer will use the resulting maps to plan deep-sea dives using the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts. MBARI’s robotic vehicles offer unique access to the deep regions of the gulf, many of which are unexplored.
Throughout the expedition, scientists will post daily cruise logs, sharing their observations and discoveries with the public. Follow the links at the right to read their descriptions of research and life aboard ship. Web visitors can also learn about the individual researchers, their equipment, and the scientific goals for each leg of this historic cruise.
Studying ocean processes often requires observations made in a Lagrangian frame of reference moving with a feature of interest. Often, the only way to understand a process is to acquire measurements at sufficient spatial and temporal resolution within a specific feature while it is evolving. Examples of coastal ocean features whose study requires such techniques include concentrated patches of toxic algal blooms or anoxic patches of low-oxygen that may cause marine life mortality. To study and track such phenomenon, drifters are often used as proxies (Fig. 1), which are in turn tracked by robotic vehicles such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). We describe a series of Lagrangian survey experiments carried out in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), with drifter relative AUV surveys.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) for high resolution seafloor mapping. This vehicle is equipped with a 200 kHz multibeam sonar, 110/410 kHz sidescan sonar, and a 2-16 kHz subbottom profiler. From a 50 m altitude, the AUV achieves 1-meter lateral and 0.1-meter vertical bathymetric resolution and <1-meter resolution sidescan imagery. The subbottom profiler images subsurface structure at 0.1-meter resolution with up to 60-m penetration. Applications to geohazard mapping include mapping of recently active faults, slumps, submarine canyons, and volcanic terrains. Repeated surveys allow detection of morphological changes associated with active processes.More
In a key naval transformation effort, NAVOCEANO has volunteered a fully-autonomous SEAHORSE-class UUV to the Undersea Technology Directorate of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) for use in the first of a series of Transformational Payloads and Sensors Demonstrations for the SSGN submarine conversion program. In the planned demonstration, the SEAHORSE UUV will be launched from an SSBN missile tube and will conduct a long-range,
multi-mission mine countermeasures (MCM) operation. The demonstration will also feature an oceanographic survey.
Autonomous underwater vehicle technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. REMUS (Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS), developed by the Oceanographic Systems Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, is one of the most widely used autonomous underwater vehicles in the world. Each year REMUS vehicles participate in numerous field exercises in support of scientific and navy research objectives. Designed for coastal operations, REMUS is normally deployed with a CTD, light scattering sensor, side scan sonar and an up-and-down looking acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP). Additional sensors are easily integrated in the vehicle and a bioluminescence instrument and a turbulence sensor package. Recent development efforts have improved the REMUS vehicle overall design and performance, and include integration of two new sensors. Vehicle improvements include lower drag, a new propulsion, new lithium-ion batteries and a new external interface. Maximum speed has been increased from 1.75 m/s to almost 3 m/s (6 knots) and mission length has increased to 22 hours at the 1.5 m/s (3 knots) cruising speed. REMUS has been used to demonstrate a new autonomous underwater vehicle application: plume mapping. A rhodamine fluorometer was installed to map a plume on a steep sloping sea floor. Results from the field test demonstrate the effectiveness of an AUV as a tool in this task. A second REMUS vehicle has been deployed with an optical sensor package. The instruments in the package include a chlorophyll fluorometer and up-and-down looking, seven channel radiometers. This package combined with the standard CTD and ADCP generates a significant scientific data set, which supports both physical and biological oceanographic researchMore