SCIENCE – COMMERCE – DEFENCE
Details of three applications for the AutoNaut and a couple of case studies can be viewed and downloaded:
Passive Acoustic Monitoring
AutoNaut® is wave propelled and performs equally well on all headings including directly into wind and waves. She has zero emissions, and can roam the oceans for very long periods, transmitting data via satellite to shore. This extreme endurance coupled with a unique solution to the speed / payload / power balance for unmanned surface vessels (USVs) offers great new potential to all engaged in oceanic monitoring and surveillance.
MOTION FROM THE OCEAN
Hull motions in waves are converted directly, silently, into propulsive thrust. This gives speeds of up to 3 knots for a 3.5m vessel. AutoNaut’s wave propulsion technology is completely scalable, so larger boats with more speed, capacity and power can be tailored to customer requirements – or smaller ones.
For example a 5m boat will do 4 to 5 knots, but internal volume increases by the cube of the length. So instead of the 230 litres typical of a 3m AutoNaut, a 5m boat will have 750 litres, as well as significantly greater deck space for PV panels to convert sunlight to power. This in turn makes it possible to install a winch for deep sensors, or tow an array requiring more electrical power.
These huge improvements on traditional data gathering platforms mean AutoNaut offers better and much cheaper ways to complete existing tasks, and makes possible new operations not previously considered. It is also easy to deploy and recover either from a support boat or a slipway.
WAYS OF OPERATING
SLIPWAY LAUNCH: we often operate from a slipway in harbour, tow out to the waves, and let go. AutoNaut will cover some 500 miles in a week.
Controlled from a graphic user interface (GUI) ashore or on a support boat she can be given waypoints to steer to, and these can be changed at will via satellite or over UHF radio.
STATION KEEPING: AutoNaut will keep station on a 35 metre radius. This allows her to act as an untethered buoy, offering great economies. The waypoint can be set or varied at any time from shore.
This also means you can bring AutoNaut back close to the harbour, circling ready for pickup.
GRID TRANSECTS: at any time in the mission the operator can set up a grid and AutoNaut will carry out precise and repeatable transects autonomously and in all weathers. The illustration shows adverse conditions for the AutoNaut; sheltered water, light winds with small waves, and a 0.5 knot tide from the NE. Grids can cover hundreds of miles.
QUALITY DATA: AutoNaut can stay at sea in all weathers and for a long time. This means greater continuity in data capture than is possible from traditional research vessels, and at a fraction of the cost.
NETWORK NODE: unmanned surface vessels (USVs) are a new addition to the large number of autonomous underwater vessels now deployed around the world’s oceans, largely gliders and floats, but also a range of bottom sensors and robotic devices.
What AutoNaut offers, which is completely new, is the possibility of networking these in real time to operators afloat or ashore. AutoNaut can keep station with the underwater asset using through water communications, and relay data to and from it.
SENSORS: with AutoNaut’s new operating potential come new ways to deploy a wide range of sensors. The list will grow but indicatively sensors currently being deployed and discussed with customers are:
MAST – AirMar weather station. Campbell Scientific insolation sensor.
HULL – Teledyne Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, Wetlabs Triplet Puck, RBR Concerto CDT, a range of multi-beam echo sounders and sonars for pipeline survey, mine detection and other purposes, cytobot and ocean acidification sensors.
TOWED – AutoNaut is a powerful towing machine. Thermistor and acoustic arrays are part of current projects. Other sensors could be towed.