Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
29 Jun 17. Kraken Sonar Systems has received ThunderFish Alpha, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) designed for deep sea military, commercial and scientific applications, the company announced on 26 June.
Developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, the ThunderFish Alpha AUV will be used to support ongoing development of Kraken’s underwater sensor and robotics programmes.
The Fraunhofer AUV programme was developed to create a versatile and compact vehicle. The vehicle can operate in ocean depths up to 6,000m and is equipped with sensor systems, including Kraken’s AquaPix MINSAS sonar. Other sensors include obstacle avoidance sonars, multi-beam echo sounder and advanced navigation/positioning sensors.
The AUV incorporate pressure-tolerant battery technology from Kraken Power, Kraken’s DataPod data storage modules and distributed control system architecture.
This allows the vehicle to quickly complete survey missions, offload survey data, enable efficient integration of additional payloads and provide battery capacity for increased operational endurance.
Kraken plans to upgrade ThunderFish Alpha with larger sensors, including MINSAS 120 sonar with real time SAS processor and its SeaVision 3D underwater laser imaging system. The size of the AUV will be increased to support the larger payload capacity and the addition of tunnel thrusters to provide hovering capability for target inspection and precision manoeuvring.
While the ThunderFish Alpha will be used primarily as a technology demonstration platform, it will also test operational performance related to maritime robotics as a service. (Source: Shephard)
10 May 17. New tablet-controlled ruggedized drones will soon be operated by soldiers. AeroVironment has unveiled a new tablet-controlled mini-drone engineered with infrared sensor technology and an ability for soldiers on-the-move to detect nearby threats. The Snipe mini-drone can reach 22mph for a distance of almost a mile, and endure winds up to 20 mph, according to AeroVironment statements. It is a 140-gram autonomous quadcopter. The drone has GPS navigation capability and once airborne, the soldier can program in “waypoints” for the mission on the control tablet. The Snipe’s flight duration is about 15 minutes, but replaceable batteries mean that its mission can be extended to 30 minutes when necessary. A quadcopter or quadrotor is a type of rotorcraft that has four vertically-oriented propellers, branching out from the central motor at 90-degree angles. The front and back propellers typically spin clockwise, while the ones on either side spin counterclockwise, and each of the four propeller motors can operate independently. They are controlled by algorithms that change the accelerations of each motor to change direction or balance the aircraft.
As a battery powered device, the Snipe is also quiet enough to operate in low noise environments without being detected, according to AeroVironment. The Snipe is operated through a software app installed on a GSC ruggedized tablet.
“A lot of thought went into the GSC for the warfighter. It’s a tightly integrated package, with integrated sun-screen, radio, and antennas,” said Roger Schuck, Snipe Technical Lead Engineer for AeroVironment.
The GSC touchscreen uses surface capacitive technology, which industry developers report uses electrical sensors to detect and respond to the electrical currents in the human finger. The rugged tablet app uses a DDL and radio datalink, however developers said that the drone is pre-programed to return to the operator if the operator-to-drone link is lost.
“It’s meant to be a very simple interface, so the user can be trained in the matter of a couple hours,” said Karl Klingebiel, Snipe Guidance Navigation and Control Lead Engineer at AeroVironment.
Technology for the Snipe also incl