News of Note

Listen to this article
Image courtesy UTEC

UTEC Trials AUV Upgrades

UTEC conducted a day of Gavia Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) trials off Fremantle in Western Australia. The AUV has recently undergone significant upgrades and the addition of new modules including the subsea ultra-short baseline (USBL) aiding the vehicle inertial navigation system (INS) positioning. Following on from the training and trials completed since the AUV arrived in Perth at the end of 2022, UTEC has finalized a program of upgrades and improvements of the system which has included INS/Doppler velocity log (DVL) modules (PHINS C3 and Pathfinder DVL); battery modules increasing mission endurance from six hours to 12; cNode USBL modules and nose cone enabling USBL tracking, aiding acoustic communications to the AUV and incorporating a new eight-megapixel camera in the nosecone. The control modules also received upgrades including calibration of depth and sound velocity (SV) sensors and a firmware upgrade.

The most significant upgrade, however, is the addition of the module that enables subsea USBL aiding of the vehicle INS positioning. This means the vehicle does not need to surface periodically to update the internal position and account for INS/DVL drift, creating efficiencies by allowing the vehicle to remain subsea and on task for the full 12-hour mission endurance as well as allowing use of the full 1000 m depth rating. Previously, the requirement for the vehicle to return to the surface to update real-world position using Global Positioning System (GPS), meant that the deepest that the AUV had worked was 100m; anything deeper was too inefficient with the time spent diving and surfacing to update the position in deeper waters.

Image courtesy Fincantieri

Construction Starts on Hydro-Oceanographic Ship in Italy

The sheet metal cutting ceremony of the new Major Hydro-Oceanographic Ship (N.I.O.M.) of the Navy, intended to conduct scientific mapping and monitoring activities as well as in support of the initiatives of the Hydrographic Institute, was held recently at Fincantieri’s Riva Trigoso factory.

Present at the event, among others, were the General Director of the Fincantieri Military Ships Division Dario Deste, the Director of the Navy Hydrographic Institute, Rear Admiral Massimiliano Nannini, and the Director of Naval Armaments, Chief Inspector Admiral Giuseppe Abbamonte.

Delivery is scheduled for 2026 at the integrated Riva Trigoso-Muggiano shipyard. The renewal program of the naval units of the Navy's hydrographic service is part of an innovative project, of European scope, which involves the Ministry of Defense and within which a financing agreement was reached between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

The vessel’s main features include technologies for limiting emissions, diesel-electric propulsion to optimize consumption, hull shapes functional to reducing resistance to progress and the use of environment-friendly materials.

Photo Credit HydroSurv

HydroSurv Funded to Commercialize Robotic Seagrass Solution

HydroSurv secured Innovate UK funding to commercialize an end-to-end seagrass monitoring solution with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The project aims to provide a rapidly scalable, low-impact and comprehensive answer to the numerous challenges of monitoring seagrass meadows by combining HydroSurv USV platforms with an automated data processing toolchain. The robotic solution will be demonstrated over spring and summer 2024 at three designated worksites on the south west coast of England, conducting baseline and seasonal re-survey work and ultimately delivering some 40 days of on-water testing and data, showing seasonal variation over the project’s 9-month duration.

Dubbed SONARS (Seagrass Observation using Novel Acoustic Remote Sensing), the project will see HydroSurv work with Coastal Marine Applied Research (CMAR) from the University of Plymouth, the Ocean Conservation Trust, Falmouth Harbour and the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The technology package has already significantly advanced seagrass mapping capabilities. HydroSurv started to develop the non-invasive solution, with Innovate UK support, in early 2022 in collaboration with the University of Plymouth and Valeport. This previous work focused on refining acoustic ground discrimination techniques from the robotic vessel platforms and was successfully demonstrated in live trials over the past two years. The partners envisage that this next stage of technology development will propel the concept towards scale deployment and commercial viability.

Image courtesy Kongsberg Discovery

Kongsberg Discovery Wins US Navy DIU Contract

Kongsberg Discovery announced a Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) award to assist in the U.S. Navy’s Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) prototype.

Kongsberg Discovery has been awarded a contract with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to rapidly deliver HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) capabilities for the U.S. Military. The total contract could result in the Navy acquiring HUGIN Endurance and HUGIN Superior deep-water AUV systems.

HUGIN Endurance, one of the newest members in the HUGIN AUV family, measures 39-ft. long and nearly 4-ft. in diameter, with a 15-day endurance, enabling unsupervised shore-to-shore operations over a 1,200 nm range. HUGIN Superior, the workhorse of KONGSBERG’s HUGIN AUV family and the deep-water industry standard, is a 22-ft. long, nearly 3-ft. in diameter with a 70-hour endurance.

Kongsberg has been supporting the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in various forms since 1892 when the Krag–Jørgensen rifle was first selected for standard U.S. Army issue. Since then, Kongsberg has continued to support the U.S. DoD with products such as: NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System), Remote Weapons System (RWS), Naval Strike Missile (NSM), and oceanographic mapping sonars.

Image courtesy Cellula Robotics

Johnson Named Director of Products at Cellula Robotics

Cellula Robotics appointed Alex Johnson as its new director of products, where he will spearhead the technological advancement of all of Cellula’s product lines and ensure the successful execution of build projects. Johnson previously served as Cellula’s director of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) products, overseeing the development of the company's AUV technology.

"Cellula is dedicated to developing and delivering cutting-edge, high-quality, and dependable AUVs and subsea solutions. Our primary focus is on crafting customizable products that offer novel or enhanced capabilities to our clients. I am excited about the integration of our project execution and product development teams to create and manufacture these customizable solutions. In 2024, our team is poised to achieve significant milestones across each product line, concentrate on scalable production, and further capitalize on the successes we've achieved with our mission-ready prototypes," Johnson said.

Image courtesy OceansAdvance

Hogan Retires from OceansAdvance, Petten Takes the Helm

OceansAdvance, the voice of the Newfoundland and Labrador Ocean Technology Innovation Cluster, announced the retirement of Cathy Hogan, who has served as Executive Director for more than 20 years, and the appointment of Shelly Petten as the incoming leader, effective December 18, 2023. Hogan has played an instrumental role in the growth and success of OceansAdvance. Her commitment to student engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion has elevated the impact of the cluster locally, nationally, and internationally. She looks forward to retiring, spending quality time travelling, and visiting with family and friends throughout the country and the US.

Shelly Petten, the newly appointed Executive Director, brings over 17 years of experience in the ocean technology sector from both private industry and the public sector. Having previously worked as an Economic Development Officer with the government of Newfoundland & Labrador and, more recently, with Kraken Robotics and PanGeo Subsea, Shelly is well-equipped to lead OceansAdvance into its next chapter. Her extensive professional relationships and past experiences will contribute to the growth of the ocean technology sector and position the province as a leader in the ocean sector.

Image courtesy Marlink

Marlink Enables 250 Mbps Uplink for PGS

Marlink upgraded the smart hybrid VSAT installation on the seismic research vessel Ramform Hyperion to provide an uplink speed of more than 250 megabits per second using GEO VSAT. This throughput was achieved to enable the transfer of seismic data from the vessel to its landside headquarters for processing in real time. The increase in capability and efficiency for the vessel’s network reflects the very high value of the exploration 3D, high-density 3D or 4D undersea imaging it produces. Using a bespoke engineering approach, Marlink’s in-house team of engineers designed a technical solution based on a 1.5m VSAT antenna, enabling seamless transfer of 2.7 terrabytes of data from ship to shore in 24 hours. Longer term, the solution was able to provide an average capacity of more than 230 Mbps upload from the vessel.

The data transfer was achieved using Marlink’s network of high throughput GEO satellites, with the focus on delivering data at the required speed specifically to shore. Beyond theoretical specifications, the trial aimed to evaluate the real-world performance of VSAT services in a dynamic maritime environment. Factors such as signal stability, latency, and adaptability to varying weather conditions were integral to the assessment.

The achieved throughput easily surpassed that possible on LEO services and demonstrates the performance possible using GEO VSAT to provide a guaranteed quality of service. The hybrid network also provides a global service without geofencing to territories and locations.

Image courtesy QYSEA Technology

FIFISH E-GO: A Modular AI Underwater Robot

QYSEA Technology released its next-generation advanced underwater operations expert, FIFISH E-GO. With a modular design, an upgraded power and imaging system, multi-load capabilities, and AI-powered features, FIFISH E-GO stands as QYSEA’s most powerful professional-class underwater robot to date. FIFISH E-GO features an all-new modular design with detachable components for its motor, lighting, camera, and battery. Module replacements can restore the E-GO to its underwater operable state within minutes. FIFISH E-GO can accommodate up to six tools simultaneously, and it supports hot-swappable batteries, enabling rapid replacement without the need to shut down, and boasts fast charging to reach 90% capacity within 50 minutes. The accompanying portable intelligent charging system offers multiple charging modes, providing power to other external smart devices as well.

The FIFISH E-GO is equipped with a 176° ultra-wide fisheye lens, delivering a 146° ultra-wide field of vision underwater to capture a greater range of elements in a single frame. With an extreme macro adjustment capability, the FIFISH E-GO focuses underwater at 10cm distance, allowing for clear observation at extremely close distances. Additionally, the FIFISH E-GO features 10,000 lumens of underwater lighting and a 160° wide illumination angle for clarity under dark and turbid oceans.

Image courtesy Ashtead

Ashtead Expands Rental Fleet with Exail’s Rovins 9-DVL

Exail secured major contract with Ashtead Technology for the initial sale of six units of its brand-new all-in-one INS/DVL system, the Rovins 9-DVL. With this new acquisition, Ashtead Technology becomes the first rental company in the market to adopt Exail’s new INS/DVL technology.

Exail’s Rovins 9-DVL is a high-performance navigation system that seamlessly integrates INS (Inertial Navigation System) and DVL (Doppler Velocity Log) functionalities, delivering highly accurate and reliable subsea positioning and velocity measurements. The acquisition of the Rovins 9-DVL marks the latest addition to a series of strategic moves undertaken by Ashtead Technology over the past year, further enhancing its underwater technology portfolio through partnering with Exail.

Image courtesy Voyis

Voyis Discovery Stereo Camera for Shallow Depths

Last year, Voyis launched the Discovery Stereo camera, boasting a 4000-m depth rating with high accuracy dome viewports. This delivered true depth perception and real-time 3D modeling to ROV platforms across the ocean sector. Discovery is a more than a stereo camera, it is a Vision System that simultaneously records low-latency piloting video, high-resolution stills images and 3D models. With a 75° x 75° field of view and onboard edge computing, the system instantaneously delivers 3D depth maps to enable true autonomy, from fine manipulator automation, accurate vehicle docking and visual tracking, or station keeping without seabed bottom-lock. Voyis just released a 300-m depth rated version of the Discovery Stereo, delivering the same performance and accuracy but in a package that is lower cost and neutrally buoyant.

MacArtney’s new TrustLink Metal Shell Hybrid connector offers remarkable flexibility, featuring two optical passes and four electrical contacts. Image courtesy MacArtney

MacArtney Launches TrustLink Hybrid Connector

MacArtney introduced the Hybrid connector, a compact addition to the company's TrustLink Metal Shell series. The Hybrid is designed to seamlessly deliver power, data, and communication in one. The Hybrid naturally extends the TrustLink series. It is developed in response to customer demands for a small, all-in-one connectivity solution supporting numerous applications, including efficient and reliable data transmission with minimal attenuation and interference. Leveraging MacArtney's proven OptoLink technology, initially designed to deliver dependable fibre optic connections in a compact connector, the Hybrid excels in high-speed data and video transmission. This is achieved through minimal insertion loss and low back reflection.

The Hybrid offers flexibility, featuring two optical passes that enable the combination of single-mode and multi-mode fibre optics, along with four electrical contacts. Expanded optical beam technology is designed to ensure robust and secure connections, positioning it as the ideal connectivity solution where the accuracy and integrity of transferred data are paramount.

February 2024