U.K. Invests in Long-Range AUV Technology
The U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has unveiled plans to develop new long-range autonomous underwater vehicles capable of under-ice and deep-ocean research.
NERC will invest £15 million ($22 million) over five years to develop a new 1,500 meter (5,000 foot) depth-rated long range autosub (ALR1500) and a new 6,000 meter (20,000 foot) depth-rated autonomous underwater vehicle (Autosub6000 Mk2).
These vehicles will support future under-ice and deep-ocean science, including a number of upcoming major marine research programs such as the Changing Arctic Ocean program. The program will be carried out at the Marine Robotics Innovation Centre at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
NERC is also investing in command-and-control systems for efficient fleet management, and new equipment to support the NEXt generation Unmanned System Science project.
NERC will invest part of the money (up to £5m) in an open call for novel sensor development suitable for deployment on various submarine and surface platforms.
Professor Ed Hill OBE, the Executive Director of the National Oceanography Centre, said: “This will see the U.K. leading new capabilities in developing new ocean observing technologies. This will give unprecedented opportunity to observe complex biogeochemical and biological processes and do so in very difficult and hostile environments including extended endurance beneath the Arctic Ocean sea-ice and Antarctic ice shelves which are increasingly seen as critical environments in understanding global climate change.”