Sea Technology

NOV 2018

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

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16 ST | November 2018 www.sea-technology.com e coSUB is a micro (0.5 m long) AUV jointly developed by Planet Ocean Ltd. and the Marine Autonomous Robotics Systems (MARS) group at the U.K. Nation- al Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS). Partly funded by Innovate UK and dstl, the U.K. Defence Sci- ence and Technology Laboratory, ecoSUB is a disruptive system that aims to democratize the use of autonomous underwater technology in science, commercial and de- fense applications by using advanced design techniques, materials, sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and manu- facturing methods to produce an affordable and capable AUV. Just a few short years ago ecoSUB would not have been possible; the ability to manufacture some of the mechanical parts required at this scale, the availability of suitable power supply chemistries, and the availability of small, low-power, accurate sensors together with small, high-capability processors—the lack of these conspired to keep micro-subs firmly at the concept level. This has all changed in the past three years as potential solutions emerged. Rapid advancements in 3D printing capability, micro-sensors, new battery chemistries and improvements in existing ones, as well as micro-minia- ture, low-power, high-performance processors provided some of the solutions for the design team to begin the two-year journey in August 2015. Although the task was still extremely challenging, the Planet Ocean and MARS teams set to work to engineer a capable, cost-effective vehicle to meet the demanding specifications identified by Planet Ocean in a detailed and wide-ranging market study. The result is ecoSUB-µ5, which has a 500-m-depth capability and target endurance of 48 hr., with the ability to carry a growing range of highly capable sensors. An important design requirement was that the AUV should, where possible, maintain a "cylinder rule," i.e., have no projecting control surfaces or antenna that would limit its capability for tube launch from a surface, underwater or sonobuoy tube. This is achieved by using a moving mass within the vehicle to control pitch angle. Using this technique also allows the com- bined antennas and lo- cation beacons, which are coaxial to the main vehicle body, to be adequately exposed for communications and GPS positioning at the surface. When the mass is fully forward, the vehicle can effectively stand on its nose. An added advantage of this is the ability to dive at extremely steep angles, providing a unique profiling capability. As part of the design process, Planet Ocean sought early engagement with sensor manufacturers to encour- µAUV + µSVP = ecoSUB µSVP Collaboration Produces AUV to Acquire Sound Velocity Profiles By Terry Sloane (Top) ecoSUB-µ5 SVP in communication mode. (Bottom) The sensor and nose cone.

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