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perienced in Iraq.

AN OCEAN DATA CHALLENGE “The AxVs are powered by lithium-

Their focus came from personal expe-

HQTXLULHV#EOXHSULQWVXEVHDFRP rience, speci? cally the collision of the ion batteries which, given our heavy

VRXQGE\GHVLJQ payload requirements and small size,

USS San Francisco – a nuclear pow- ered submarine – with a seamount at must be recharged after each day of ? ank speed in 2005. While they were use,” explains Kauffman. “So, at the deployed in Iraq at the time, it was end of a day of subsea data collection, 0XOWLEHDP,PDJLQJ6RQDUV big new. “How does the US navy not the AxV comes to the surface and it’s 6LQJOHDQG'XDO)UHTXHQF\WRN+] know there’s a mountain underwater? twin dives down to pick up where it left

That idea stuck in our heads,” explains off. The now surfaced vehicle estab-

Wolfel. They did a little digging and lishes GPS signal with a satellite, es- discovered that 70% of the earth is tablishes acoustic communication with and positioning to the submerged twin ocean “and we really don’t know any- thing about it. The ocean is drastically (which will also use its own INS and underexplored. So we want to create a DVL for positioning), and turns on its data repository so we can change the generator to begin recharging its bat- teries. This process repeated itself until information market. we’re low on fuel.” “But we have a data acquisition prob-

Kauffman says this could run for 30, lem because it’s too expensive to col- lect deep ocean data today. A ship goes maybe 60 days. They call it the leap- out to sea, takes an AUV, it goes out frog, named after for a basic tactical combat manoeuvre the pair learned as for 12 to 48, maybe 72 hours, depend- ing on energy use and sensor payload; Navy SEALs). “This way we always 0LFUR86%/7UDFNLQJ%HDFRQV it could be doing bathymetry, physical have accurate positioning and SAT- %LGLUHFWLRQDO$FRXVWLF'DWD0RGHPV imagery, it could be a side scan sonar COM and we’re constantly collecting looking for a snapshot. You pull the data without the need for a surface robot up, swap the batteries, get the support ship,” adds Wolfel. It’s a band- data and put it back in the water. The width constrained environment, so pro- cost of this is between US$50,000 and cessing and transmission via satellite $250,000 a day, just to run this ship. will be done while each AxV is at the surface.

It’s a lot. And it’s not scalable. We can’t get the data, so we’re going to go get it with a ? eet of autonomous hybrid ve-

FAIL FAST hicles (AxVs) that will remove the re-

Terradepth is aware of the under- quirement for that surface ship that we water challenge and are taking a fail see as the main cost driver.” fast approach but with experts from various ? elds on their books, including

Seagate Technologies, a data storage


Wolfel says they looked at the current ? rm, which also led an $8 million in- 3RUWDEOH6LGHVFDQ6RQDUV 7RZHG2(0+XOODQG3ROH0RXQWHG

AUV market, at Hugins and Slocums, vestment round into the company last but decided to build their own with year. A lot of focus is on the system’s intelligence.

their own concept of operation, fo- “Most of what we’re doing isn’t very cused on deepwater, where they see their concept having market-changing innovative,” says Kauffman. “Where potential. The result is a lithium-ion we’re innovating on the software side, battery-based multi-AxV system with around the brain of the submersible. hydrogen fuel cell repowering with It will know when it sees things like a each vehicle acting as a receive and shipwreck or a thermal vent and it will transmit node so it can operate both at know if it needs to turn on a camera or the surface as a gateway to send data to a video camera or do a second pass or surface and contact headquarters here shore – building on constrained com- in Austin and say ‘I don’t know what munications environments the pair ex-



MTR #7 (18-33).indd 23 9/11/2020 10:25:32 AM

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