Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2017

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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58 unmanned systems inside   April/May 2017 AIR & MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL Photo courtesy of ASV Global "It's a very, very interesting technology and a very clever solution to this idea of synoptically sampling, or sampling effectively instantaneous- ly at really small scales," said Jim Bellingham, di- rector of the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "We're getting increasing specialization of underwater vehicles and this is kind of a new niche, if you will, for undersea systems—and a very clever one. The resolution of ocean models, up to now, has been on the order of kilometers. This ap- proach offers a truly new capability to sample the ocean at a finer—and very revealing—level of detail, said Bellingham, who is familiar with the project. because by the time you finished mapping the area, the whole thing has completely changed." The only way you can sample something like that and get a true snapshot, Bellingham said, is to use multiple vehicles at once. "Planet Ocean has created a system that does this at very fine scales, which is something that didn't really exist before." This technology is attractive to oil and gas companies like BP for a variety of reasons. They want AUVs they can deploy routinely as well as have available for emergency situations, Sloane said, such as an oil spill that requires a quick response. "They also have miles of pipeline to survey, and the only way to do that now is with a sur- face boat and a ROV," Sloane said. "That's ex- pensive and time consuming. With this, they can deploy vehicles cheaply and monitor al- most continuously every week. They can run up and down the pipeline looking for leaks so they'll know if there's a problem." The Challenges Once the initial sensor and power challenges were addressed, the team needed to look to ad- vanced materials and manufacturing techniques to achieve the desired micro AUV specifications, Sloane said, and they pushed the boundaries of 3-D printing technology to get there. They were tasked with shrinking the control system and electronics to fit in an AUV that's half a meter long rather than 3 meters, while determining how to achieve the requested endurance, and of course, finding ways to keep costs down. The AUVs have gone through several it- erations, incorporating new technology as it continues to emerge, Sloane said. While he couldn't go into details about those technolo- gies, he did say most of them are related to sen- sors and came out of universities in the U.K. Launch and Recovery ASV Global focused on the launch and recovery portion of the project and looked at a number ASV Global's C-Worker platform can deploy and recover the new ecoSUB. " IT'S A REAL TREND TO SEE DIFFERENT TYPES OF UNMANNED SYSTEMS WORKING TOGETHER." Dan Hook, managing director, ASV Global "What we realized is, as we run these ve- hicles and observe the ocean at ever finer and finer grain, that every time we increase the resolution we find a bunch of new physics and a bunch of new interesting things to look at. The problem is that at the higher resolution, at that really fine variability, it's also very fast. And so you end up not really able to observe it by taking one vehicle and moving it around

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