Bluefin Robotics, a leader in the design and manufacturing of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), announces the successful testing and demonstration of the first AUV with a fully integrated commercially available synthetic aperture sonar (SAS). The PROSAS Surveyor, manufactured by Applied Signal Technology, Inc. (AST), provides a 1x1-inch resolution out to a 200-meter range-performance significantly better than most sonars used on AUVs today. The Bluefin-12 AUV combines this impressive SAS data with navigation accuracy usually better than 0.1% of distance traveled to provide an advanced capability for many undersea applications.
"The vehicle performance was superb, and our customer was very impressed with the data quality," said Ian Wegener of Seismic Asia Pacific, Pty. Ltd., Bluefin's representative. "I am confident that our successful demonstration will result in a highly favorable evaluation. This system will open up new opportunities for subsea survey."
The AST PROSAS Surveyor was integrated into the standard Bluefin-12 AUV for the purpose of a rapid proof-of-concept demonstration. Bluefin required only 9 months to design, test and deliver the vehicle with the new payload, proving the efficacy and flexibility of Bluefin's modular design. In its current SAS configuration, the Bluefin-12 can operate for up to 12 hours at 200 meters depth. Pressure-tolerant battery packs can be rapidly swapped out on deck and subsystems can be serviced in the field thanks to the modular free-flooded architecture of the vehicle-an integral design element of Bluefin AUVs. The system also includes a comprehensive set of processing and analysis tools specifically for the PROSAS Surveyor which allows the operator to efficiently classify contacts. Database capabilities allow for further examination of multiple views of an object yielding better classification decisions and provide a central repository of all classification information. Future production Bluefin-12 SAS vehicles will carry a smaller, more compact version of the PROSAS Surveyor, including onboard data processing and offer power options for increased endurance and capability.
The Bluefin-12 SAS vehicle will continue its evaluation through the first half of 2011.