New joint pro­ject TRIPLE-MoDo

The il­lus­tra­tion shows the op­er­a­tion of the sta­tion, the ice probe and the small autonom­ous sub­mers­ible vehicle. With its help it will be pos­sible to take samples from the ice-covered wa­ters. Graphic: MARUM, Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences, Uni­versity of Bre­men

Bre­men con­sor­tium de­vel­ops in­nov­at­ive dock­ing sys­tem for un­der­wa­ter robots.

How can in­ac­cess­ible places on the Earth, such as the deep sea, as well as those on other plan­ets be in­vest­ig­ated? Ex­treme goals present ex­treme chal­lenges for the tech­no­logy used. These are more ser­i­ous than just cor­ro­sion or res­ist­ance to un­usual pres­sures. For ex­ample, the new tech­no­lo­gical solu­tions will en­able com­mu­nic­a­tion with and sup­ply of en­ergy to un­der­wa­ter ro­bots by way of an in­nov­at­ive dock­ing sys­tem. To­ward this end, a con­sor­tium of three Bre­men part­ners have ini­ti­ated the re­search and de­vel­op­ment pro­ject TRIPLE-MoDo.

Ex­plor­a­tion of our world’s oceans as well as ex­tra­ter­restrial oceans re­quires ro­botic sys­tems that can op­er­ate in­de­pend­ently and for ex­ten­ded peri­ods of time un­der­wa­ter. A Bre­men con­sor­tium has begun work­ing on an in­nov­at­ive dock­ing sys­tem for this pur­pose as part of the pro­ject TRIPLE-MoDo (“Tech­no­lo­gies for Rapid Ice Pen­et­ra­tion and Subgla­cial Lake Ex­plor­a­tion – Mo­bile docking”). The pro­ject part­ners in­clude DSI Aerospace Tech­no­logy GmbH, the Ro­bot­ics In­nov­a­tion Cen­ter of the Ger­man Re­search Cen­ter for Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, and MARUM – the Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences at the Uni­versity of Bre­men. The pro­ject is be­ing fin­anced by the Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter in Bonn.

The planned sys­tem will al­low an autonom­ous un­der­wa­ter vehicle (AUV) to dock with an un­der­wa­ter sta­tion in or­der to trans­fer data it has col­lec­ted and to re­charge its bat­ter­ies, and thus to remain un­der­wa­ter for ex­ten­ded peri­ods of time. In or­der to over­come the chal­len­ging is­sues en­countered with dock­ing in deep wa­ters, the part­ners are us­ing com­pon­ents from the field of soft robot­ics. These com­pon­ents are noted for their great flex­ib­il­ity and their abil­ity to gently ab­sorb col­li­sions.

The TRIPLE-MoDo pro­ject is one of sev­eral ini­ti­at­ives that make up the over­arch­ing TRIPLE pro­ject line in the DLR’s Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The mis­sion of the pro­ject line is to de­velop an intelligent ex­plor­a­tion sys­tem that can be used to carry out sci­entific activ­it­ies in wa­ters that lie be­neath ice. The pro­jec­ted sys­tem con­sists of a fully autonom­ous very small submers­ible vehicle, called a nanoAUV, a par­tially autonom­ous melt­ing probe that melts the ice and serves as a trans­port sys­tem for the AUV, and an as­tro­bi­o­lo­gical labor­at­ory (As­tro­Bi­o­Lab) to ana­lyze li­quid and sedi­ment samples. The melt­ing probe also serves as a fixed un­der­wa­ter sta­tion for the sub­mers­ible to trans­fer data and en­ergy.

This in­nov­at­ive sys­tem prom­ises to be of great value for plan­et­ary mis­sions as well as for near-Earth space ap­plic­a­tions. The in­terest on the part of space re­search is to even­tu­ally util­ize this kind of sys­tem, when it has been de­ployed and tested on the Earth, for the ex­plor­a­tion of oceans on other plan­ets and bod­ies, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa. It is spec­u­lated that hydro­thermal seeps may be present in wa­ter depths of 100 kilo­met­ers beneath the ice cover of Jupiter’s moon, which, be­cause of the as­so­ci­ated heat flow and in­flux of min­er­als, could sup­port life even in those dark and cold re­gions.

“Euro­pa’s pre­sumed ocean con­tains an amount of wa­ter that is equal to about twice that found on planet Earth,” ex­plains the pro­ject leader Dr. Chris­toph Wald­mann of MARUM. “The ex­cit­ing ques­tion is whether there are traces of past or present life forms in these ex­tra­ter­restrial oceans.”

The fully de­veloped sys­tem should be com­pleted by 2027 and tested dur­ing a demon­stra­tion mis­sion to the Ant­arc­tic re­gion with close co­oper­a­tion by mar­ine and space sci­ent­ists.


Dr. Chris­toph Wald­mann
Head Co­ordin­ator of TRIPLE-nanoAUV 1
MARUM – Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences, Uni­versity of Bremen
Tele­phone: +49 421 218 65606

Dr.-Ing. Jochen Rust
Pro­ject Co­ordin­ator of TRIPLE-MoDo
DSI Aerospace Tech­no­lo­gie GmbH
Tele­phone: +49 421 596969 35

Dipl.-Ing. Miguel Bande Fir­vida
Team Leader TRIPLE-nanoAUV
Tele­phone: +49 421 17845 5064

MARUM produces fundamental scientific know­ledge about the role of the ocean and the ocean floor in the total Earth system. The dynamics of the ocean and the ocean floor significantly impact the entire Earth system through the interaction of geological, physical, biological and chemical processes. These influence both the climate and the global carbon cycle, and create unique biological systems. MARUM is committed to fundamental and unbiased research in the interests of society and the marine environment, and in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It publishes its quality-assured scientific data and makes it publicly available. MARUM informs the public about new discoveries in the marine environment and provides practical knowledge through its dialogue with society. MARUM co­operates with commercial and industrial partners in accordance with its goal of protecting the marine environment.

More information about the project and the participating partners:


DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH

German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)

Media Contact

Ulrike Prange Pressestelle
MARUM – Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences, Uni­versity of Bre­men

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Earth Sciences (also referred to as Geosciences), which deals with basic issues surrounding our planet, plays a vital role in the area of energy and raw materials supply.

Earth Sciences comprises subjects such as geology, geography, geological informatics, paleontology, mineralogy, petrography, crystallography, geophysics, geodesy, glaciology, cartography, photogrammetry, meteorology and seismology, early-warning systems, earthquake research and polar research.

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