Friday, 27 June 2014

Unmanned Vehicles are the Future of Undersea Defence and Security

Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) 2014, which took place at ACC Liverpool from 10-12 June 2014, was the glue putting together leading experts from many countries that are prominent in the undersea defence and security sectors. Presenters and attendees discussed crucial strategic issues, such as evolving dynamics in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Rim regions, as well as important developments in undersea safety and environmental protection. The game-changing impact that Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) and Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) will have on subsea defence and security has been highlighted by a range of presentations.
A major driver for development in this sector is the need for autonomous vehicles that are suitable for both civil and military applications. A Long Endurance Marine Unmanned Surface Vehicle (LEMUSV) is being developed by Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) Ltd. under the UK Government-backed Small Business Research Initiative. ASV will undertake the detailed production design, build, commissioning, and sea trials of a fully operational, open ocean going C-ENDURO vessel, designed for deployment at sea for periods of up to three months in all-weather conditions and sea states. Vince Dobbin, Head of Development at ASV, discussed the C-ENDURO whose three pillar energy system provides a flexible and fault tolerant solution to energy supply. Deploying AUV from surface vessels presents challenges in terms of visibility, as well as dependence on prevailing sea conditions.
Thomas Petersson, Product Manager at Saab, informed on the experiences and possibilities related to the operation of AUV and SubROV from submarines. An AUV so deployed could perform a diversity of roles, including mine reconnaissance, surveillance, remote communications, and diversion. The company has developed a recovery concept based on using a small submarine-operated ROV for the critical stage of retrieving and pushing the AUV back into an empty heavyweight torpedo tube. This concept has been tested and proven to work well in cooperation with submarine units from the Royal Swedish Navy, according to Thomas Petersson.
AUV launch and recovery was also the subject of a paper given by Axel Panoch, Project Manager at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). The company is developing systems that enable submarines to launch and recover AUV through standard 21-in weapon tubes or out of the casing.
The attendance of Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology, highlighted the importance of this sector both from a UK point of view and globally. The Minister praised the innovation demonstrated by the subsea industry and said there was significant potential for the exploitation of commercial markets for these technologies.

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