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Marine Electronics


March 2013 Issue

SeaRobotics Delivers First HullBUG for Testing
SeaRobotics Corp. (Stuart, Florida) has delivered the first Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (HullBUG) System to the Center for Corrosion and Biofouling Control at Florida Institute of Technology. It will be tested and further developed at the newly commissioned large-scale seawater facility located at Port Canaveral in Florida and funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

The HullBUG system is an AUV designed to crawl on ship hulls or other underwater structures to groom their surfaces to keep them clean of marine growth. It weighs 30 to 40 kilograms, attaches to the hull and performs a gentle cleaning function. Numerous embedded computers perform navigation and sensing tasks to facilitate grooming the ship hull.

'The highly automated proactive grooming, or light cleaning ... will revolutionize hull maintenance allowing it to remain in a clean state at all times,' said Geoffrey Swain, a Florida Tech professor of ocean engineering.

The AUV can attach to ferrous, nonferrous and fiberglass hulls. Opportunities are being explored in commercial shipping, oil and gas, and nuclear and conventional power generation markets.

The HullBUG is being tested on an 8-foot by 30-foot steel plate, coated with U.S. Navy-qualified antifouling coatings, which simulates a ship's hull.

The estimated 5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency achieved through proactive grooming translates into a savings of $15 billion a year for the global shipping industry, SeaRobotics said. Additionally, this grooming will achieve a proportional reduction in the 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year emitted by the fleet.

Great Barrier Reef Pilots to Get Touchscreen Devices for Safety
SevenCs (Hamburg, Germany) has partnered with VoyageBank (Cairns, Australia) to deliver Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) technology to 50 marine pilots responsible for keeping the Great Barrier Reef free of shipping disasters.

The three-year deal, signed with the Australian Reef Pilots industry group, will bring navigation, real-time monitoring and centralized management of pilotage activities as part of a pilotage safety management system.

The new PPUs are touchscreen devices that run the SevenCs Orca Pilot G2 pilotage software, and they were customized by SevenCs for pilotage within the reef.

SeeTrack Now Compatible With Sea Scan HDS
SeeByte Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland) announced in February the compatibility of its SeeTrack Military software systems with the Marine Sonic Technology Ltd. (White Marsh, Virginia) high-resolution Sea Scan HDS side scan sonar system.

SeeTrack Military is an open-architecture platform solution for rapid on-site analysis and data fusion that can be adapted for specific user needs. It was developed as a mission-planning, monitoring, post-processing and reporting tool, and can be used on surveys, military and security operations, and scientific experiments.

Sea Scan HDS has a small top-side processor (8 by 4.5 by 1.75 inches) and is lightweight, shock-resistant, and designed to provide a telemetry interface between the tow fish and a Windows PC. The top-side processor design provides for a tow-cable connector, USB 2.0 connector, fuse holder, power connector, LED power indicator and power switch. The system can be powered from a 12-to-24-volt DC or 90-to-240-volt AC, 50-to-60-hertz power source.

Space, Deep-Sea Scientists Will Jointly Develop Autonomous Tech
Several German space and marine research institutions under the leadership of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have joined forces for the Robotic Exploration under Extreme Conditions (ROBEX) project. They will share research and develop robot technologies to explore the moon and the deep sea independently over long periods.

'We are faced with the same technical challenges in the exploration of both regions. Neither for the deep sea nor for the moon has a solution so far been found, for example, as to how robot systems can move and conduct measurements a year long on their own and independently without exhausting their batteries,' said Professor Karin Lochte, scientific director of AWI.

One of the goals is to develop a control unit for new autonomous deep-sea robot systems that recognizes and avoids any object lying in its path, such as stones. Future robots would also be able to independently take soil samples from deep-sea volcanoes and help to minimize the risks of deep-sea exploration. Furthermore, technologies would be developed to reliably monitor pipelines on the seafloor or the foundations of offshore structures over long periods of time.

The Helmholtz Association is supporting the five-year project with €15 million. The same sum is being contributed by the scientific institutions involved: AWI, five institutes of the German Aerospace Center, GEOMAR ' Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, Jacobs University, Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Dresden, Technical University of Berlin and Technical University of Kaiserslautern.

C-Stat 2 Buoy to Monitor Japanese Coast for Earthquakes
ASV Ltd. (Portchester, England) has delivered a C-Stat 2, an autonomous mobile station-keeping buoy, to Tohoku University in Japan. It will be used to help predict earthquakes off the Japanese coast.

The C-Stat hull is made of aluminium with a polyurethane-coated closed-cell foam fender and is powered by a hybrid diesel-electric drive system. An integral fuel tank provides an endurance of four and a half days in currents up to 3.5 knots and more than 20 days in lower speed currents such as 1.5 to 2 knots.

The vessel can be controlled by a UHF data link for line-of-site control or a satellite link for global control. The portable control console comes with a handheld controller for close-quarters maneuvering when launching and retrieving alongside a ship or harbor wall.

The buoy will also be developed for the oil and gas, and military markets.


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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.