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Marine Electronics


April 2016 Issue

Advancing USV

A researcher in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has received a $469,822 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to advance technology on risk-informed decision making that will enable unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to team up with humans.

In recent years, USVs have been increasingly used in many marine applications, including ocean sampling, maritime search and rescue, hydrologic surveys, harbor surveillance, defense, and industrial offshore supply and support. USVs also are used to assist AUVs for studying various types of marine species, coral reefs and searching for natural resources.

FAU researchers on the three-year project will develop technologies and scientific approaches that will allow between three and 10 USVs to work together. The USVs, which will range in size from about 5 to 10 ft., will be programmed to make decisions on their own until it’s determined that they need human intervention. They will be designed to operate in complex marine environments such as congested harbors and ports.

PHINS INS Installed
On Cyclops Sub

OceanGate and iXBlue have partnered to expand the application and use of advanced marine navigation and sonar equipment to explore the world’s ocean depths. As part of the alliance, OceanGate has selected the iXBlue PHINS INS for use in its fleet of Cyclops series manned submersibles.

The PHINS system delivers real-time navigational data directly to the sub’s pilot. It provides accurate position, heading, attitude, speed and depth data as the submersible explores archeological sites and other undersea targets. With the use of PHINS, submersible pilots no longer need ship-based tracking and a topside communications link to obtain accurate position data.

PHINS has been integrated into Cyclops 1 in preparation for OceanGate’s expedition to survey the iconic wreck of the Andrea Doria in June. This Italian-flagged passenger liner sank in 1956 about 50 mi. from Nantucket, Massachusetts. The seven-day expedition will survey the exterior of the wreck with high-definition video and multibeam 3D sonar.

AutoNaut USV Deploys
Acoustic Monitoring System

Seiche and MOST (Autonomous Vessels) have formed a new collaboration, resulting in the first field trials successfully conducted on Roadford Lake, North Devon, England, during which MOST (AV)’s 3.5-m AutoNaut USV deployed Seiche’s Wireless Passive Acoustic Monitoring (WPAM) system.

The tests assessed the performance of the AutoNaut/WPAM for self-noise, data transmission capabilities and optimal array deployment.

Results show a very high signal-to-noise ratio. During the trials, up to 50 m of PAM cable was towed by the AutoNaut to assess the ideal array length for surveying and maneuverability. Seiche’s analog array was used, and the USV proved capable of maintaining speed and stability.

The next phase will involve heading out to sea and utilizing Seiche’s brand new flagship product, the 20-mm Digital array, in combination with MOST (AV)’s 5-m AutoNaut.

Leopard ROV Survives
Harsh Conditions

After spending two months working 24/7 in the Arabian Gulf, often in scorching 40° C heat, Saab Seaeye’s Leopard ROV has survived its first real test, reported Abu Dhabi-based CCC Underwater Engineering. The Leopard was launched straight into a 570-km pipeline inspection.

It has 11 powerful thrusters that help it stay on station when working in high-current areas. The ROV allows more interchangeable equipment to be fitted than ever before in a vehicle of this size.

Co-Pilot Integrated
Into Hercules ROVs

Subsea 7 has successfully integrated SeeByte’s CoPilot into the work-class ROVs on board the Normand Oceanic. The vessel is equipped with two of the latest versions of the Hercules ROV, which are deployed through the vessel’s own moonpool and capable to 3,000 m depth.

Subsea 7’s team on board the vessel successfully integrated CoPilot with the Hercules 15 and Hercules 30 ROVs. Feedback has been positive from the ROV pilots, particularly with regard to the user interface that summarizes all the data from the vehicle and its sensors onto one screen.

CoPilot permits pilot-controlled auto-transit and stop-and-hover, while providing automated sonar tracking and movement relative to a target.

Magnetometer, Cable Tracker
For Locating Utility Lines

It’s crucial to know the exact location of existing utility lines before undertaking dredging operations or when new pipes and cables are laid down. Regulations require they be buried several meters under the bottom to prevent snagging by boat anchors and fishing trawls. These lines are hard to find with conventional metal detectors.

JW Fishers’ pinpointing magnetometer and cable tracker have proven effective tools for the job. The pinpointing magnetometer locates iron and steel pipes buried up to 16 ft. in the bottom, and the cable tracker can detect a power or communications cable at more than 30 ft. away.

New Jersey-based Castle Group uses both of these devices in their operations. On a recent job, the cable tracker proved essential. The company received an emergency call from a contractor working in Jersey City. A section of a privately owned pier was in danger of collapse and needed immediate rehabilitation to prevent further deterioration and a navigation hazard. The work included driving new steel sheeting into the bottom in an area with two high-voltage underwater power lines. Castle Group located and marked the cables to ensure they would not be disturbed while driving in the sheeting.

Marine Technologies Inc. (MTI) of Baltimore, Maryland, has also recently used the cable tracker. A project in New York involved tracking utility lines running under the Hudson River, then installing 15,000 ft. of new fiber-optic cable 6 ft. below the natural bottom of the river.


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