The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
15th April 2019
The National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UK, has selected high-performance hybrid navigation technology from UK-based Sonardyne International for the next generation of its Autosub autonomous underwater vehicle, targeted for under-ice operations.
The NOC will incorporate Sonardyne’s highest performing SPRINT-Nav inertial navigation system (INS) into the new 2000-metre depth rated Autosub, which is being specifically developed for carrying high-performance sensors on the most demanding research missions under polar ice, hence its name Autosub2KUI, or A2KUI.
SPRINT-Nav combines Sonardyne’s SPRINT INS sensor, Syrinx 600kHz DVL and a high-accuracy intelligent pressure sensor into a single housing, making it one of the smallest combined inertial navigation instruments on the market, according to Sonardyne.
“SPRINT-Nav’s tight integration of all the raw sensor data at a low level provides unprecedented navigational performance and precision for subsea vehicles. Consequently, SPRINT-Nav has consistently outperformed competing systems in trials carried out for a number of customers,” Sonardyne said.
The company’s oceanographic global business manager, Geraint West, said: “NOC selected SPRINT-Nav 700 to meet its requirements for an advanced dead-reckoning system in a single unit as the backbone of the A2KUI’s navigation system. The capability to plug in other navigation sensors to aid the AUV’s position was also critical and a second upward-looking Syrinx DVL is being incorporated to provide tracking on the underside of the ice.”
A2KUI will also be equipped for acoustic tracking using Sonardyne’s Ranger 2 ultra-short baseline (USBL) system, which is fitted to the UK research vessels RRS James Cook, RRS Discovery and the new polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Dr Alex Phillips, head of Marine Autonomous Systems Development at the NOC, said: “The development of Autosub2KUI by the NOC builds on the successes of previous generations of Autosub, including Autosub3, which has previously penetrated up to 60 kilometres under the ice from the ice-edge. Autosub2KUI will provide the UK science community with a next-generation AUV, equipped with state-of-the art sonars and camera systems to enable scientists to create detailed maps and establish habitat characteristics of the seafloor under the ice-covered polar regions.
“The missions planned for A2KUI are among the most demanding for any AUV in existence and Sonardyne’s SPRINT-Nav will be fundamental to the AUV’s ability to access the hostile under-ice environment in the polar regions. Gaining insights into these regions is critical to answering some of the biggest environmental scientific questions facing mankind, including climate change.”