Hydroid, Inc., a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, the leading manufacturer of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) systems, announces that it has been awarded a major contract to provide AUVs and seafloor docking stations for the Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGSN) component of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), an implementing organization of the OOI, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, awarded the contract to Hydroid for initial development and design modification of its REMUS 600 AUV and docking stations to meet OOI specifications. The OOI Program is managed and coordinated by the OOI Project Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for construction and initial operations of the OOI network.
The OOI, a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will use networked infrastructure of science-driven sensor systems to measure the physical, chemical, geological and biological variables in the ocean and seafloor. The data will then be collected and disseminated on coastal, regional and global scales. Through a unique cyberinfrastructure, OOI will make ocean observing data available to anyone with an internet connection. Greater knowledge of the ocean's interrelated systems is vital for increased understanding of their effects on biodiversity, climate change, ocean and coastal ecosystems, environmental health and climate.
Hydroid's REMUS AUVs are modular and may be fitted with different types of sensors. They have also been used to aid in hydrographic surveys, harbor security operations and scientific sampling and mapping, as well as many basic and applied research programs funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.
As part of the OOI program, oceanographers will deploy multiple REMUS 600 AUVs fitted with a variety of sensors to observe the environment. These vehicles will autonomously swim into seafloor docking stations that are powered from moorings on the surface. The vehicles will autonomously recharge their batteries, upload scientific data collected during the previous missions and acquire configuration data for their next mission. When fully operational two REMUS 600 AUVs and seafloor docks will be become part of the array and will be deployed for periods of up to 120 days. During this period, each vehicle is expected to complete multiple missions without direct human intervention.
The REMUS 600 vehicle was originally developed in collaboration with WHOI with funding from the ONR to support the Navy's growing need for equipment that is capable of supporting operations requiring extended endurance, increased payload capacity, and greater operating depth. Hydroid, Inc. has significantly enhanced the capabilities of this AUV system by investing additional private funds. The REMUS 600 AUV, now commercially available from Hydroid, boasts the same proven software and electronic subsystems found in Hydroid's highly successful REMUS 100 AUV, but with an increased depth rating and new capabilities that make fully autonomous multivehicle operations reliable and cost effective. Such capabilities were demonstrated during the successful search for Air France Flight 447 wreckage, during which WHOI utilized the larger Hydroid REMUS 6000 vehicles and launch and recovery systems.
"The REMUS 600 is a good fit for this mission," said Christopher von Alt, President and one of the co-founders of Hydroid. "The system goes deeper, further and is highly modular, allowing for greatly increased operational scope. We're so pleased that our REMUS technology will play a significant role in furthering the important work being done by OOI."
Subsequent phases of the OOI contract will include delivery of production AUVs and seafloor docking systems used to collect data as a part of the OOI Pioneer Array located off the New England coast.
The Pioneer Array spans the continental shelf-break, where water depths drop quickly from about 100 meters to greater than 500 meters over a distance of about 40 km. The shelf break is a boundary region between cool coastal waters and warmer offshore and Gulf Stream waters. Its biological productivity and variability are strong, and the Pioneer Array plans to understand the interplay of physical and biological processes across many scales, from hundreds of meters to hundreds of kilometers. The Pioneer Array AUVs will operate in the vicinity of the shelf break, with each vehicle capable of making more than 50 missions per year in water depths up to 600 meters.
"AUVs are a critical tool to rapidly sample variability on dynamically relevant scales within the complex frontal system," said Al Plueddemann, a WHOI senior scientist and project scientist for the Pioneer Array. "This capability is key to improving our understanding of interactions between the continental shelf and slope."