Sonardyne International has completed a two-year joint project with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and L3 Harris aimed at integrating new and existing technologies to deliver change in unmanned endurance
The two-year, £1.4 million Precise Positioning for Persistent Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (P3AUV) project, part funded by Innovate UK, aimed to integrate existing and emerging technologies to deliver a step-change in unmanned platform endurance and navigational precision.
New standards in long-endurance underwater navigation and automated subsea positioning have been set following the successful completion of the joint project.
Sonardyne’s Global Business Manager for Ocean Science, Geraint West said “Sending autonomous and unmanned underwater vehicles out on missions that will last for weeks or even months, unaided by crewed ships is a shared vision held by the ocean science, offshore energy and defence sectors,” adding “But, current constraints on AUV or UUV operations, such as onboard battery capacity and navigational accuracy degradation over time, has meant that the role these vehicles have had to play has been largely restricted to relatively short deployments.
Mr West said that by developing and integrating Sonardyne’s own SPRINT-Nav navigation instrument, the company had shown that it is possible for underwater platforms to make more of their available onboard power and maintain navigational accuracy over long distances without external aiding.
In addition, the project also set out to increase the use of autonomy in offshore survey positioning operations using USVs. The use of USVs is to reduce the risk to personnel, the environment and reduce operating costs. It is hoped that the use of autonomous calibration techniques will negate the need for a manned vessel to perform this task.
A representative from L3Harris UK said that in comparison to an offshore support or research vessel which can burn 3,000 tonnes of fuel annually, the environmental footprint of an independent ASV or AUV is negligible.
In the final project trial in Loch Ness, Scotland, NOCs deployed a large number of AUVs operating in swarms.