Unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) are becoming ever more common in marine applications. This technology ecosystem is broad and can be considered to include more than the “traditional” survey AUVs and ROVs most familiar today. Two key unmanned systems providing cost-effective access to the global ocean are gliders and floats. Gliders are becoming very well known, with hundreds employed by users around the world. Profiling floats number in the thousands and are an integral component of ocean observation strategies.
Less familiar is the intersection of propeller driven AUVs and gliders. New hybrid gliders offer a small folding blade thruster to augment their buoyancy drive. This enables flight modes beyond the traditional up/down cycle and the ability to perform in regions, such as those with strong water density stratification or strong current regimes, previously not suitable to gliders. With the option to retrofit older systems or install on new builds, this innovation dramatically widens the performance envelope of an already cost-effective tool for ocean observation.
Likewise recent developments in profiling floats are offering new choices for ocean monitoring. Earlier this year a drifting float demonstrated the ability to dive to 6,000 meters depth. Capitalizing on cost effective glass spheres for pressure housings and building on core expertise in buoyancy engines, this new tool expands the reach of drifting profilers to 97% of the ocean.
Together these innovations are expanding the reach of ocean science, industry and defense. Even in an era of challenged budgets, it is now entirely reasonable to envision an ocean well populated by unmanned systems providing worldwide remote sensing. These persistently present unmanned vehicles will also capitalize on the growing capabilities of undersea telemetry to operate in a networked fashion in surface constrained areas such as under-ice. While the ocean will remain a hostile environment, the information required to observe and understand that environment is becoming ever more available, thanks to new and evolving unmanned systems
External link: http://www.oceanologyinternational.com/en/Oceanspacenews/Oceanspace-Articles-Search/170720131/Unmanned-Systems-Providing-Persistent-Presence-Throughout-the-Ocean/?goback=%2Egde_2173776_member_259414719