This page is meant to be a storehouse for publications that reflect activities of interest to AUVAC and its members. If you have publications that should be added to this list please let us know and we will include them.

DITCHING “DUMB” DATA Abandoning Archaic Deliveries for Smarter, Cost-Effective GIS Tools

June 27, 2014 via – Ocean News & Technology

The public abandoned paper maps in favor of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), so why hasn’t the survey industry? The preferred source of driving directions has moved from paper maps to GPS units to smartphones in under two decades, yet seabed survey data are still delivered in outdated formats. Archaic legacy data formats hidden amid complex file structures are delivered alongside paper charts and drawings that collect dust on clients’ shelves. While determining infrastructure locations on the seafloor could be done using objective analysis, it is still completed by matching pixels to a color ramp. As GIS platforms for smarter data deliveries are readily available, Exploration and Production (E&P) companies and survey contractors should move from archaic deliveries formats to simpler, more cost-effective, intelligent methods.

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June 27, 2014 via – Ocean News & Technology

The need for systems that can provide visibility in the world of underwater research is exploding. Many fields of study are expanding, with new missions and applications where underwater visibility is required multiplying every day. In the past, most of the general public had no idea what it took to do underwater rescue or research or what a complicated task working under the water is. It is now fairly routine for the general public to see images of the types of technology used in underwater search and research in the media. Terms like Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV), Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and Side Scan Sonar are becoming more familiar after the horrific events of Flight 370 in Malaysia and other over-water tragedies. Over the last several months, as the search unfolds before our eyes on prime time television, it is hard not to pay attention as scientists proposed many “new” technologies and strategies to locate the Boeing 777.

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Advances in AUV Pipeline Inspection

April 28, 2014 via – Ocean News & Technology

There is a growing need for advancement in Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) technology and capabilities to perform effective deepwater pipeline inspections, allowing operators to take full advantage of the efficiencies to be gained through the use of autonomous inspection systems. Oil & Gas (O&G) companies are proactively developing new specifications for AUV pipeline inspection surveys that will necessitate AUV suppliers and survey service operators to enhance their existing capabilities. These advancements will provide superior data quality and result in improved integrity management of subsea pipeline assets while also reducing the dependency on expensive surface vessels.

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Robotic submarines make waves in the oil and gas sector

April 15, 2014 via – The Engineer

AUVs are now relatively widely used by both the oceanographic research community and the defence sector, where their ability to quietly operate for long periods deep beneath the surface and to return detailed data from the seabed, makes them ideal for a range of applications. But now, dramatic mprovements in capability, coupled with our insatiable demand for energy, are driving a growing use of the technology in the offshore energy industry.

The trend was one of the key talking points at London’s recent Oceanology International conference (March 2014), where manufacturers, survey companies and energy firms all pointed to the growing use of AUVs for a range of subsea survey and inspection tasks. Indeed, Tom Hiller, a senior engineer from Teledyne Gavia — one of the leading AUV manufacturers — told The Engineer that operators are now even beginning to specify AUV solutions in contracts.

The technology certainly has some compelling advantages: AUVs are faster than the remotely operated tethered vehicles (ROVs) that are widely used in the offshore sector. And, because they’re able to operate autonomously under their own power, are less of a drain on resources: operators can put them in the water, leave them, and go off and do something else. But it’s the quality of the data they can gather that’s really driving their use. Able to fly metres above the seabed — or close to subsea installations — AUVs enable operators to rapidly deploy a range of high-frequency sonar systems and cameras to gather detailed subsea data.

What’s more, the technology also enables operators to access areas that are off-limits to other equipment, an attractive capability for an industry that’s moving into ever-more remote environments.

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Breaking the Surface

January 15, 2013 via – International Ocean Systems

OceanServer Technology, Inc. (OTI) recently participated in the fourth annual international interdisciplinary field training of marine robotics and applications, Breaking the Surface 2012 (BTS 2012), which took place in October 2012 on the island of Murter in Croatia. It was hosted by the University of Zagreb and involved a wide variety of researchers, including representatives from France, Greece, Germany, Portugal, the USA and several other countries.

The conference brought together four related disciplines: marine robotics, marine biology/ecology, maritime archaeology and maritime security. For eight days, BTS 2012 offered multidisciplinary field training where researchers from the aforementioned disciplines were able to join forces and use existing and recently available technologies to address their specific problems. The crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea presented these researchers with the perfect setting to update their knowledge base and operate a number of modern subsea systems, including AUVs, ROVs and other robotic platforms.

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Exploring the oceans – 20,000 colleagues under the sea

January 9, 2013 via – The Economist

SAILING the seven seas is old hat. The latest trick is to glide them. Sea gliders are small unmanned vessels which are now cruising the briny by the hundred. They use a minuscule amount of power, so they can stay out for months. And, being submarines, they are rarely troubled by the vicissitudes of weather at the surface. Their only known enemies are sharks (several have come back covered in tooth marks) and fishing nets.

Sea gliders are propelled by buoyancy engines. These are devices that pump oil in and out of an external bladder which, because it deflates when it is empty, means that the craft’s density changes as well. This causes the glider to ascend or sink accordingly, but because it has wings some of that vertical force is translated into horizontal movement. Such movement is slow (the top speed of most gliders is about half a knot), but the process is extremely efficient.

That means gliders can be sent on long missions. In 2009, for example, a glider called Scarlet Knight, operated by Rutgers University, in New Jersey, crossed the Atlantic on a single battery charge, though it took seven months to do so.

Since that crossing, gliders have been deployed on many previously unthinkable missions. In 2010 teams from the American navy, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and iRobot, a robot-maker based in Bedford, Massachusetts, used them to track the underwater effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That same year a glider owned by Oregon State University watched an underwater volcano erupting in the Lau basin near Tonga. In 2011 a glider made by another firm, Teledyne Webb of East Falmouth, also in Massachusetts, tracked seaborne radiation leaked from the tsunami-damaged reactors in Fukushima, Japan. And the University of Newfoundland is planning to use gliders equipped with sonar to inspect icebergs, to work out whether they are a threat to underwater cables and other seabed infrastructure.

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Case Study – Why the Professor Went to Prison

November 1, 2012 via – Business Week

He’s the only university professor or administrator ever prosecuted for violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). Convicted in federal district court in Knoxville in 2008 of using graduate students from China and Iran on U.S. Air Force research that was off-limits to foreigners, and taking a laptop with restricted files to China, he exhausted his appeals up to the Supreme Court, which declined last year to hear the case. He began serving a four-year prison sentence in January.

The AECA has been around for 36 years; that it’s being used for the first time against a 75-year-old man epitomizes the growing tension between national security and academic freedom. American universities have long forged relationships with their counterparts abroad and attract hundreds of thousands of foreign graduate students and professors, especially in engineering and science. At the same time, universities are doing more defense-related research limited by the act to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As China, Iran, and other countries chase U.S. technological secrets, federal enforcement agencies see universities—and globe-trotting professors such as Roth—as a weak link. “The open environment of a university is an ideal place to find recruits, propose and nurture ideas, learn, and even steal research data,” the FBI said in a 2011 report. “It is unknown how the Chinese used the information they obtained from Roth, but because they invited him to visit China and he had a sensitive report e-mailed to him while there, it should be assumed they were interested in his research and planned to utilize it.”

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UUVs rise to the surface

July 1, 2012 via – Military and Aerospace Electronics

Unmanned underwater vehicles are becoming feasible for a wide variety of applications, from autonomous ship hull inspection to oil and gas exploration, while military leaders are developing UUVs for long-endurance underwater intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) in the past have been niche machines used for research and specific pre-programmed tasks. The difficulties of building and operating these submersibles made them less useful than their airborne and land-bound kin. With technology constantly moving forward, however, UUVs are expanding into the mainstream with the ability to complete a wider variety of missions than their research-specific predecessors.

UUVs face a unique challenge that other unmanned vehicles do not: the ocean. This is a corrosive environment in which high pressure often can be present. Marine animals as small as microorganisms and as large as whales can interfere with operation. In the ocean, communications are virtually non-existent, and ruggedizing these underwater craft, without exception, means they must be either waterproof, airtight, or both. As a result, UUVs need to be largely autonomous, able to withstand the rigors of the marine environment, and be among the most power-efficient vehicles designed.

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Unmanned, sensor-laden, and ubiquitous

July 1, 2012 via – Military and Aerospace Electronics

Unmanned vehicles carrying advanced sensor and processing payloads proliferate the modern battlefield, in the air, on the ground, and at sea.

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Unmanned Underwater Vehicles is bigger better or smaller smarter?

June 1, 2012 via – Naval Forces Magazine

The long, cylindrical streamlined torpedo shape is common to many underwater vehicles (UUV). And since the standard submarine torpedo tube is 533mm in diameter, many systems intended for delivery using a submarine are limited to that diameter. There are inherent payload and energy storage limitations imposed by the maximum diameter of the 533mm vehicle. But while many UUvs with naval applications available today have the shape and diameter of a torpedo there are new systems that are considerably larger. Modularity and open architecture mean that basic platforms can be configured for civilian or military use.

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iRobot Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

May 9, 2012 via – Technology Systems Corp

iRobot Continues to develop and Expand mission capabilities of long-duration, low-logistics UUVs

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SeaCat Inspects 24km long Water Tunnel

May 1, 2012 via – Technology Systems Corp

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.

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Five minutes with Dr Michael Incze

May 1, 2012 via – Marine Technology Reporter

“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.”

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The Quest to Map Titanic

April 12, 2012 via – Woods Hole Oceagraphic Institute

Bill Lange was aboard Knorr in 1985 when the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research vessel brought back the first grainy black-and-white images of Titanic resting on the seafloor. Ever since, Lange has made it his quest to push the boundaries of imaging technology, engineering one-of-a-kind camera systems and operating them in the deepest and most extreme parts of the world’s oceans.

Lange, who directs the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory at WHOI, has returned to the Titanic site several times. He played a major role in a 2010 expedition that yielded new, richly detailed views of the ship and wreck site that were published in 2012, the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.

The original Navy-funded expeditions in 1985 and 1986 used Titanic as a target to test pioneering deep-sea technology. Were camera systems on the list?

Bob Ballard and a few of us had dreams of bringing color video back from the deep, but camera systems to do that didn’t exist at the time. Designing a deep-sea camera system is a lot more than just taking a camera off the shelf and putting it in a pressure-resistant tube. There’s a lot of engineering that goes into making these cameras work efficiently at depths of more than 13,000 feet, withstand pressures of 10,000 pounds per square inch and a range of temperatures from 100°F on deck to near freezing on the seafloor; operate on really low power; and produce high-optical-resolution images in very low light levels. There really isn’t a big market for camera systems like that, so it’s not economical for a commercial vendor to build one.

As it turned out, Titanic has been a great driver for advancing our imaging, lighting, and other technologies in the deep sea. The constant desire of people to know more about Titanic has provided funding and resources to go back to Titanic over the years. It helped drive our desire to keep bringing technology to the next level and improving the imaging capabilities for the scientists and the public.

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Revolutionary Advancements for Subsea Facility Inspection

April 5, 2012 via – Technology Systems Corp.

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.

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Run Silent, Run Deep, Run Solo

January 31, 2012 via – EH Publishing, Robotic Trends

Autonomous underwater vehicles can go where humans fear to dive, but communications remains a challenge.

High-flying drones, such as General Atomic’s Predator, create headlines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But cruising stealthily beneath the waves is an equally impressive fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). These vessels are helping organizations, including the U.S. Navy, major oil companies, and various scientific research bodies retrieve vital information, deactivate mines, support repair and maintenance operations, and handle an array of other vital tasks more efficiently, and in many instances more safely, than would be possible if manned vessels or divers were used.

“Any unmanned application has tremendous benefits,” says Dr. Rand LeBouvier, a retired Navy captain who now works in the government military sector at Bluefin Robotics Corp., an AUV manufacturer located in Quincy, Mass. “In addition to the traditional dull, dirty, [and] dangerous applications, as well as saving manpower, money, and time, unmanned underwater systems give you access to places you would never be able to go with a manned system.” LeBouvier also notes that sensor-loaded AUVs are bringing to fruition a centuries-old dream of generations of sailors and marine researchers: “a transparent ocean.”

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Discovery and exploration: Ocean Observatories Initiative takes shape under the oceans

January 26, 2012 via – AUVSI

The Ocean Observatories Initiative: a National Science Foundation-funded program intended to conduct a top-to-bottom study of ocean activities over the span of up to three decades.

The OOI consists of two large arrays of systems, one on the East Coast of the United States, about 80 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and one on the West Coast, near Oregon and Washington.

The East Coast array, known as the Pioneer Array, is located at the continental shelf break, where water depths drop from about 100 meters to more than 500 meters in a distance as short as 40 kilometers. It’s a boundary region between cool coastal waters and warmer offshore and Gulf Stream waters. The Pioneer Array includes three surface moorings and seven profiler moorings mounted in waters from 95 meters to 480 meters (311 to 1,575 feet) deep. The profilers, each packed with a variety of sensors, will travel up and down the mooring lines to study the vertical columns of water, measuring such things as oxygen content, water velocity and salinity.

The Pioneer Array will also include six gliders traveling in a saw-tooth pattern between the surface and near the seafloor, along the continental shelf waters. Each will carry five instruments, including ones to measure temperature, pressure and photosynthetically available radiation. Teledyne Webb, a pioneer in gliders (see Timeline on Page 28), has been tapped to provide Slocum gliders customized to the OOI mission, with production deliveries scheduled for 2012.

The array will also include three autonomous underwater vehicles that will travel along the shelf break frontal system, also traveling in a saw-tooth pattern and carry similar instruments. Hydroid has been tapped to provide its Remus 600 AUVs for that work; OOI has awarded it a $1 million contract for initial design work for the AUVs, with production contracts to follow.

The West Coast array, named the Endurance Array, is based off the coasts of Oregon and Washington and consists of three fixed platform sites, at 25-, 80- and 500-meter depths. It also has something unique: two cables that deliver power to nodes and instruments under the sea and high-speed data back to land.

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Going unmanned in the deep

January 26, 2012 via – AUVSI

As advances in the technology continue, Dan McLeod, senior program manager atLockheed Martin, anticipates growing interest for AUVs to augment ROV capabilities for subsea oil and gas operations.

As a result of increased capability, AUVs are more frequently being used for daunting subsea applications. Missions requiring long endurance are best suited for the technologies and include pipeline monitoring, site surveying, environmental surveying, equipment inspection and other applications requiring extensive time at sea. However, AUVs are still not capable enough to replace ROVs. While AUVs offer advantages such as tether-free operations, operating speeds of up to 4 knots and long endurance, according to McLeod the systemslack intervention capability and the ability to transport tons of heavy equipment to underwater worksites. While McLeod anticipates AUVs could one day be capable of turning valves and accomplishing more complicated tasks, for now they will augment, rather than replace, their remotely operated counterparts.

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UUVs and the brimstone below

January 26, 2012 via – AUVSI

David Clague is a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) who makes extensive use of an autonomous underwater vehicle to study submarine volcanoes. Indeed, he says, AUV technology and practices spearheaded by MBARI now make it easier to study volcanoes under the sea than ones on land.

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Underwater archaeology: Hunt for the ancient mariner

January 25, 2012 via – Nature

Armed with high-tech methods, researchers are scouring the Aegean Sea for the world’s oldest shipwrecks.

Foley and a few competitors are using high-tech approaches such as autonomous robots and new search strategies that they say have a good chance of locating the most ancient of shipwrecks. If they succeed, they could transform archaeologists’ understanding of a crucial period in human history, when ancient mariners first ventured long distances across the sea.

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