Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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61 unmanned systems inside October/November 2016 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. them back, recharge them and then send them out again," Gundersen said. At the Front Some of the advantages of combining all three types of platforms became clearer during a California study of upwelling fronts. These fronts occur when the wind blows offshore, pushing the surface water before it. Colder wa- ter from the depths then wells up to replace it. That water is full of nutrients, McGillivary said, and within a couple of days the area of a front will turn green with phytoplankton and become host to a range of marine life. "You always find the fish, the sharks, the whales and everything else right at the front," McGillivary said. "So for biology it's a big deal. It's also a big deal for chemistry because, as the water warms up, like when you boil water, the gases come out of a solution. The fronts are where your air-sea f lux is happening." The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research In- stitute wanted to study these fronts and was searching for them using underwater vessels. "By the time they found (the fronts), their bat- teries were just about out of power," McGillivary said—so he and a colleague who had a drone offered to help. "We said, 'Look we can fly and find the fronts, and transmit the information on where the fronts are down to the autonomous surface vehicle, which can then transmit it to the autonomous underwater vehicle. And then, instead of searching all over creation, it can go directly to the front and begin mapping of the frontal feature without wasting any energy—in fact is what has been done." The fronts are relatively easy to spot from the air. The upwelling water is cold enough it can be detected with an infrared sensor, the color of the water is different because of the phytoplankton and the waves, more specifi- cally the lack of waves, sets a front apart. "If you put a hose in the bottom of a sink and it jets up, there are no waves where the jet hits the surface because the water is f lowing out FLOCKS OF SURVEY VESSELS AUTONOMOUS SURFACE VESSELS LIKE THE WAM-V may make practical coordinated, multi-vessel missions for tasks like hydrographic surveying, which measures water depth and maps the configuration of the sea floor. Manned assets currently do such survey work, often running lawnmower-like patterns across the ocean surface, said Mark Gundersen, president and CEO of WAM-V manufacturer Marine Advanced Research. If you combine a manned vessel with a phalanx of unmanned surface vessels, he said, you could greatly expand the data you collect on each pass. "So each time you make a pass, instead of doing it with one multi-beam sonar on that manned asset, you have six or seven, depending on how many USVs, WAM-Vs, you have alongside," Gundersen told Inside Unmanned Systems. That's how you leverage the unmanned while you are out there with the manned asset." The WAM-V, above, with a mounted camera takes photos of the shore for Google. The WAM-V, below left, is the sole platform for the Maritime RobotX Challenge. NOAA researchers, below right, study a coastal area.

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