Even when equipped with compressed-air bottles and diving regulators, humans reach their limits very quickly under water. In contrast, unmanned submarine vehicles that are connected by cable to the control center permit long and deep dives. Today remote-controlled diving robots are used for research, inspection and maintenance work.
The torpedo-shaped underwater robot will be able to dive down to 6,000 meters. (© Fraunhofer AST)
The possible applications of this technology are limited, however, by the length of the cable and the instinct of the navigator. No wonder that researchers are working on autonomous underwater robots which orient themselves under water and carry out jobs without any help from humans.
In the meantime, there are AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) which collect data independently or take samples before they return to the starting points. “For the time being, the technology is too expensive to carry out routine work, such as inspections of bulkheads, dams or ships’ bellies,” explains Dr. Thomas Rauschenbach, Director of the Application Center System Technology AST Ilmenau, Germany at the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB. This may change soon. Together with the researchers at four Fraunhofer Institutes, Rauschenbach’s team is presently working on a generation of autonomous underwater robots which will be smaller, more robust and cheaper than the previous models. The AUVs shall be able to find their bearings in clear mountain reservoirs equally well as in turbid harbor water. They will be suitable for work on the floor of the deep sea as well as for inspections of shallow concrete bases that offshore wind power station have been mounted on.
The engineers from Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation in Karlsruhe, Germany are working on the “eyes” for underwater robots. Optical perception is based on a special exposure and analysis technology which even permits orientation in turbid water as well. First of all, it determines the distance to the object, and then the camera emits a laser impulse which is reflected by the object, such as a wall. Microseconds before the reflected light flash arrives, the camera opens the aperture and the sensors capture the incident light pulses. At the Ilmenau branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation, Rauschenbach‘s team is developing the “brain“ of the robot: a control program that keeps the AUV on course in currents such as at a certain distance to the wall that is to be examined.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT in St. Ingbert provides the silicone encapsulation for the pressure-tolerant construction of electronic circuits as well as the “ears” of the new robot: ultrasound sensors permit the inspection of objects. Contrary to the previously conventional sonar technology, researchers are now using high-frequency sound waves which are reflected by the obstacles and registered by the sensor. The powerful but lightweight lithium batteries of the Fraunhofer ISIT in Itzehoe that supply the AUV with energy are encapsulated by silicone. A special energy management system that researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen, Germany have developed saves power and ensures that the data are saved in emergencies before the robot runs out of energy and has to surface.
A torpedo-shaped prototype two meters long that is equipped with eyes, ears, a brain, a motor and batteries will go on its maiden voyage this year in a new tank in Ilmenau. The tank is only three meters deep, but “that’s enough to test the decisive functions,“ affirms Dr. Rauschenbach. In autumn 2011, the autonomous diving robot will put to sea for the first time from the research vessel POSEIDON: Several dives up to a depth of 6,000 meters have been planned.
Dr.-Ing. Thomas Rauschenbach | EurekAlert!
NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California
24.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field
23.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News