Photo: National Oceanography Centre (NOC)

NOC’s new Autosub robot submarine on trials

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is carrying out trials of its new Autosub Long Range (ALR) robot submarine in Scotland to ensure it is ready for scientific deployments in the ocean.

Trials include piloting the latest version of the ALR, known as Boaty McBoatface, in Loch Ness from 18 to 29 May.

The activities represent the latest phase of the Oceanids programme which aims to put the UK at the forefront of autonomous technology development.

Capable of being deployed for up to three months and reaching depths of up to 6,000 metres, the fleet of six ALRs will open new opportunities for lower-cost shore-based scientific missions and under-ice exploration, NOC said.

Development of new navigation features will also allow scientists to research areas that could not previously be reached by boat.

“The trials in Loch Ness will ensure that UK researchers have access to cutting-edge technologies that enable world-leading science, whilst lowering the cost and reducing the environmental impact of missions by removing the need of a supporting research ship,” said Kristian Thaller, project manager from the NOC.

“Our development in autonomous vehicles means that scientific research is one step closer to net-zero emissions, because of the advances in the robots’ technology systems.”

NOC is also conducting the first in-water trials of a newly developed Autosub 2000 under-ice vehicle, which is said to be capable of carrying high-powered sensors and has the ability to operate in challenging polar environments.