The game changing impact that autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASV) will have on subsea defense and security will be highlighted by a range of presentations to be given at Undersea Defense Technology (UDT) 2014, the world's principal conference and exhibition for the subsea defense and security sector, which takes place at ACC Liverpool from June 10 - 12.
Long endurance surface vessels
A major driver for development in this sector is the need for autonomous vehicles that are suitable for both civil and military applications. Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director at M Subs Ltd, will describe a program being undertaken by Advanced Undersea Vehicles & Systems to design and prototype a large autonomous surface vehicle. The program will make it possible for the first time to deploy a 25-30m long unmanned vessel optimized for extensive periods offshore. It will have the capability to deliver Remotely Operated Vehicle (RUV) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) services for a variety of tasks at substantially reduced cost when compared with conventional manned ships.
A Long Endurance Marine Unmanned Surface Vehicle (LEMUSV) is being developed by Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) Ltd under the UK Government-backed Small Business Research Initiative. ASV will undertake the detailed production design, build, commissioning and sea trials of a fully operational, open ocean going 'C-Enduro'vessel, designed for deployment at sea for periods of up to three months in all weather conditions and sea states.Vince Dobbin, Head of Development at ASV, will present on the C-Enduro, including the vessel's 'three pillar'energy system that provides a flexible and fault tolerant solution to energy supply.
AUV deployment from submarines
The ability to mount covert operations is an important asset in the undersea defense theatre. Deploying AUVs from surface vessels presents challenges in terms of visibility, as well as dependence on prevailing sea conditions. Thomas Petersson, Product Manager at Saab, will describe experiences and possibilities related to the operation of AUVs and SubROVs from submarines. An AUV so deployed could perform a diversity of roles, including mine reconnaissance, surveillance, remote communication and diversion. However, while an AUV can be launched in a similar manner to a torpedo, recovering it is a different matter. Saab has developed a recovery concept based on using a small submarine-operated ROV for the critical stage of retrieving and pushing the AUV back into an empty heavyweight torpedo tube. This concept has been tested and proven to work well in co-operation with submarine units from the Royal Swedish Navy.
AUV launch and recovery is also the subject of a paper to be given by Axel Panoch, Project Manager at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The company is developing systems that enable submarines to launch and recover AUVs through standard 21" weapon tubes or out of the casing.
Mine hunting has long been high on the subsea defense agenda and autonomous vehicles open up significant new fields of opportunity. John Robinson, Technical Specialist at Thales UK, will examine the design challenges for unmanned surface vehicles in support of remote mine countermeasures operations and how Thales has met them through its Halcyon USV project. Bo Lövgren, Senior System Designer at Saab Dynamics AB, will present onefficient AUV mine-hunting using model and feature based navigation to meet the challenge of optimizing efficiency in rapid environmental assessment, mine like object detection and mine identification.
Dealing with the unexpected
UUVs are now being employed by the scientific, offshore and naval sectors to perform a multitude of different tasks, often involving longer mission lengths coupled with increasing vehicle autonomy. This brings the need for higher reliability and the ability to cope with unexpected events. Prof Robert Sutton, Professor of Control Systems, Plymouth University, will speak on a novel approach to the diagnosis of such faults. Prof Sutton's work has examined the unbalanced load faults in an electric thruster motor that occur when there is damage to a vehicles propeller blades.
Global expertise and insights
UDT will draw together leading experts from a broad range of countries that are prominent in the undersea defense and security sectors. The conference agenda ranges from crucial strategic issues, such as evolving dynamics in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Rim regions, to important developments in undersea safety and environmental protection. The speakers include representatives of the major subsea industry players, such as Babcock, BAE Systems, L3, and QinetiQ.