Sea Technology

MAY 2017

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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www.sea-technology.com May 2017 / st 37 S urfROVer is the latest in a line of in- ventive, special-purpose ROVs de- signed and built by SeaView Systems of Dexter, Michigan. A battery-operated crawler with a low-profile design and wide footprint that creates an extremely stable vehicle, SurfROVer targets the transitional zone between shore and deepwater environments that often can- not be addressed by other vehicles. The challenges of the transition zone include potential active surf conditions, where key aspects of SurfROVer's design make it capable of operating in otherwise im- passable conditions. SurfROVer's innova- tive battery-powered propulsion system makes it ideal for specialized applica- tions such as route surveys and un- exploded ordnance (UXO) surveys and for deployment of a cable/pipe- line tracker, as well as applications in otherwise impassible surf, such as active surf bathymetry surveys. Exploiting the Latest Technologies For many underwater applica- tions in deepwater conditions, an ROV can readily be "flown" to per- form structural inspections or survey work. But the littoral zone, where surf conditions, insufficient depth and the hazards of shore proximity present special challenges, remains relatively unexplored by standard ROVs. Drawing upon extensive experi- ence with both off-the-shelf ROVs and custom vehicle designs, as well as the latest advances in battery chemistry and the company's own custom con- trol electronics capabilities, SeaView Systems decided to rethink the pos- sibilities for a vehicle that could oper- ate in energetic surf and traverse directly from shore up to depths of 100 m. Some key design considerations that would make for the most versatile ve- hicle included: wide and low vehicle profile for maximum stability; low cen- ter of gravity with high mass for opera- tion in energetic surf; wide track drivers for good traction with low-psi footprint; high-powered drive motor system for versatile payload or towing capacity; ro- bust mechanical design capable of with- standing the rigors of high surf; high ma- neuverability, point-turning capability; ease of deployment and transport; and use of as many off-the-shelf components as practical to maintain low cost. One of the first design consid- erations was the propulsion for the vehicle. After careful consideration, SeaView decided on an electric motor-driven hydraulic system that provides a high level of torque to each of the four tracks. In order to keep overall system cost down, SeaView used a combination of custom-machined components and standard off-the-shelf parts that were readily available for more mundane terrestrial applications. The tracks, for example, were mass pro- duced for use on truck setups. The first application for SurfROVer was pulling an extremely sensitive sled-mounted electromagnetic UXO detection system developed by White River Technologies. The requirements of the electromagnetic survey equip- ment dictated that the vehicle have a very low electromagnetic noise floor. Vehicle Design For the Littoral Zone SurfROVer Handles Transitional Zone from Shore to Deepwater By Matthew Cook • Dr. Tim Crandle • Ed Celkis (Top) SurfROVer emerges from heavy surf conditions during field trials at the ocean-side shoreline at Duck, North Carolina. In this con- figuration, targeting relatively shallow water, the mast supports a GPS antenna that allows precise navigation control and location of sur- vey data. (Bottom) The front view of SurfROVer shows a host of survey equipment, including lights, HD and SD cameras, multiple sonar im- agers and a current profiler.

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