The MUN Explorer AUV is the “flagship” vehicle in the lab and while fully ocean capable it is being operated initially in coastal areas of Newfoundland for environmental monitoring, seabed imaging and vehicle dynamics testing. Work is on-going to develop the payload of the vehicle to include CTD, sonar and camera devices giving it more versatility and capabilities.
This is a 4.5m ocean-going AUV with a 3,000m depth capability built by International Submarine Engineering Ltd. The vehicle was primarily funded from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency through the Atlantic Innovation Fund. The Memorial University AUV is a multi-user vehicle. Its primary use is for research purposes in Newfoundland, and other parts of as a research platform for underwater sensor technologies such as underwater imaging (sonar and cameras) and water quality.
For most of the initial operations, we anticipate launching and recovering the AUV from shore, however ship based operations are possible. Water column sensors will form the initial instrumentation suite. Subsequent seabed and iceberg survey work will be undertaken with side scan sonars, sub-bottom profilers and multi-beam echo sounders. The vehicle consists of a torpedo shaped body with 4 aft planes and 2 foreplanes, a propeller, and a small number of surface features in the form of transducers, antenna, and a strobe light. As well, a retractable communications mast is fitted aft in the vehicle. The nose is cylindrically shaped and the tail is a tapered cone.
The vehicle configured with a 150 kg scientific payload weighs 700kg and displaces 710 kg. Thus large instrumentation outfits can be quickly configured on the vehicle by replacing the instrumentation section of the AUV. Different users can be provided with a shell piece in order to outfit their instruments, thus efficiently making use of the AUV time and availability for missions. Hence the AUV can very easily accommodate the specialized needs of different users.