Autonomous Vehicles Ð Pushing the Boundaries

25 May, 2011


Autonomous Vehicles – Pushing the Boundaries


25 May 2011 North of England Branch Evening Meeting

Chairman Alan Dobson, Technology Development Manager, DUCO Ltd

Sponsored by Atkins







From Under an Antarctic Ice Sheet to Hydrothermal Vents in the Caribbean: Discovery Using Autosubs

Prof Gwyn Griffiths, Head of the Underwater Systems Laboratory, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Engineers at the National Oceanography Centre at Southampton design, build and operate the Autosub family of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for marine science applications. The design and configuration of the vehicles vary to tackle the science questions being asked, and the operating environments. How engineers have met the challenges will be described, drawing on two recent campaigns in contrasting environments: one to the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica, where Autosub3 completed six missions beneath the floating Pine Island Bay Glacier and the other an Autosub6000 campaign to discover hydrothermal vents thought to exist in waters over 5000m deep off the Cayman Islands. Looking forward, the new Autosub Long Range vehicle has completed its first engineering trials, and is being prepared for a series of science campaigns beginning in 2012. AUVs, and their cousins undersea gliders, are now so accepted as first line tools for marine science that the UK is to set up a national facility dedicated to their use.


Nature in Engineering for Monitoring the Oceans (NEMO)

Dr Alan Murphy, Lecturer in Marine Engineering and Maryam Haroutunian, PhD Student, School of Marine Science and Technology, Newcastle University

Through natural evolution, thousands of marine species have arrived at ‘successful’ solutions for surviving and operating in the ocean. In many examples, the biological solutions, by a diverse range of means, exhibit superior performance characteristics, e.g. locomotion, agility and the resilience to operate at depth, compared to the engineered alternatives used on underwater vehicles. This talk highlighted a research project (NEMO) that is taking desirable ‘engineering solutions’ from nature and applying these to autonomous underwater vehicles. Specific examples of the research work were highlighted, including a general comparison between biological and AUV capabilities, alternative propulsion methods and energy usage.