Photo: Kraken

Canada backs Kraken AUV residency project

Kraken Robotics has secured $2.9 million from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

The Canadian company will receive the funding over a 26-month project period.

Specifically, Kraken will use it to support the development of its seabed resident ThunderFish XL autonomous underwater vehicle.

Building from the previous development efforts of the ThunderFish Alpha AUV, the ThunderFish XL AUV will be larger and with an increased depth rating, have a larger payload capacity and have longer mission endurance.

Most importantly, the ThunderFish XL will have key capabilities that are lacking with similar underwater vehicles in the industry today.

These include: 1) the ability to transition from high-speed survey mode to “zero” speed hovering mode in-mission; 2) through-the sensor acoustic, laser and optical target detection, image recognition and inspection; and, 3) using onboard sensors to improve vehicle navigational accuracy.

ThunderFish XL will be depth rated to 6,000 metres and carry an array of sensors and custom payload modules.

These include Kraken’s AquaPix Synthetic Aperture Sonar, SeaVision 3D laser profiler, SeaThrust rim-driven thrusters and also SeaPower pressure tolerant batteries.

All of these will also be integrated with advanced artificial intelligence algorithms onboard the vehicle.

In addition, the modular design will allow for rapid sensor reconfiguration and battery replacement.

Finally, Kraken will develop a conceptual design for a robust and autonomous multi-modal docking solution allowing TFXL to function as a seabed resident AUV that can run a wide variety of missions from its underwater docking station.

It should be noted that the ThunderFish XL is significantly different from the more common “long endurance” AUVs that are prevalent today, Kraken said.

Notable differences include:

  • A much longer period of time in water;
  • Period of deployment involves multiple missions;
  • Vehicle can completely shut down between missions;
  • Typically utilizes a subsea docking structure for safety; and
  • Typically involves charging and/or data download/communications while at dock.

Karl Kenny, Kraken’s president and CEO said:

“The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) has been an invaluable partner to Kraken for many years.

“We sincerely appreciate their commitment to help us further develop our ThunderFish XL AUV.

“AUVs have evolved from an emerging, niche technology to a viable solution and an established part of underwater operations in both military and commercial applications.

“By combining our advanced sensor technologies with cutting edge artificial intelligence algorithms, it is our objective to deliver a cost-effective AUV solution that is truly autonomous as opposed to being simply automated.

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