Innovate UK Boosts Marine Autonomous Systems Growth

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC), along with nine UK partners from across industry and academia, has won funding from Innovate UK to enable £2.9 million worth of collaborative research & development for Marine Autonomous Systems.

Starting later this year the projects will see NOC working closely with businesses to develop a low cost robot sub, a pressure tolerant rechargeable battery and an integrated, low cost, shore based technique for surveying the full water column.

Kevin Forshaw, Associate Director of Innovation and Enterprise at NOC, said: “We are delighted to have secured this Innovate UK funding, and look forward to working alongside our industry partners to produce these exiting new developments in Marine Autonomous Systems.”

The need to collect more data from the marine environment means that Marine Autonomous Systems need to be at sea for longer, which requires more power. Steatite Ltd, Oxis Energy Ltd, MSubs Ltd and NOC will be collaborating to develop a solution to this problem in the ‘Pressure Tolerant Lithium Sulfur Battery for Marine Autonomous Systems’ project. As part of this Steatite Ltd led project, the NOC will be sharing expertise on providing power to Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV’s) at depth.

The ‘Autonomous Surface / Sub-surface Survey System’ project will see NOC’s Autosub Long Range work with ASV Ltd’s Unmanned Surface Vehicle to develop a low cost, integrated, shore based method of surveying the full water column. Success in this project, which also includes Sonardyne and Seebyte, will enable long term, low-cost survey and monitoring operations for a range of applications. These include offshore energy and deep sea mining prospecting.

NOC will also be contributing expertise in developing Autosub technology as part of a project to launch and recovery multiple AUVs from a USV, led by Planet Ocean Ltd. The other partners are NOC, ASV Ltd and the University of Southampton, which will be collaborating to develop a low-cost AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle). The project will also be developing a system of launching and recovering an AUV from an Unmanned Surface Vehicle. This will reduce the dependence of the user on the availability of research ships, which can be expensive. This system will have applications in scientific discovery, the defence sector, and oil spill monitoring.