BERGEN, Norway – A multi-company consortium is working with various universities to develop a universal interface to facilitate docking of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) with subsea structures.
Statoil is said to be the driving force behind the project, with Bergen-based pinless power and data specialist WiSub leading the consortium that comprises Bergen University,DOF Subsea, easySubsea, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Kongsberg Maritime, Saab Dynamics, Sonardyne, Statoil, Swire Seabed, and Warsaw University of Technology.
The Brazilian coordinator is wireless underwater communication group easySubsea.
Results should lead to long-term remote operation of underwater vehicles through battery charging and high-bandwidth data transfer via a seabed-based docking station.
Another target is to develop the ability to charge distributed sensor networks from AUV systems via bi-directional power transfer.
The Research Council of Norway and Brazil’s Finep are providing financial support.
According to WiSub, at present the battery life of seabed-based robotics typically does not extend beyond a day or two before recharging becomes necessary. The volumes of data collected by an AUV also require distribution and processing, typically to an onshore facility for analysis.
Connection to an underwater cabled network linking the seabed to shore is the chief means of achieving charging and data transfer; however connection systems that employ conductive pins have tight mating tolerances, sealing systems and limited mating cycles.
By removing the pins from connections, repeatable reliable underwater connection and disconnection could be achievable.
WiSub’s pinless connection systems deliver power and data electromagnetically across a seawater gap, relaxing mating tolerances and eliminating short-circuit possibilities.