Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Makes Pipeline Inspection Faster, Safer
by Zachary Dubiel, student writer
Iver 3--a third-generation Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)--is charting new territories in the field of underwater exploration. Iver represents the latest AUV technology available from its Massachusetts-based manufacturer, Ocean Server, and the first robot of its type available for public use.
The AUV has already been out on two test runs--one in the Keweenaw Waterway at Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) and one in the Straits of Mackinac--and it performed magnificently, said Guy Meadows, GLRC director.
Michigan Tech researchers are working to develop algorithms that will allow Iver to track long underwater features. "Those could be pipelines crossing the Great Lakes, or they could be underwater communication cables," Meadows explained. "If we decided to develop offshore wind power systems in the Great Lakes, it could follow those power cables. Most importantly, it could check municipal water intakes."
Iver has two dual processor computers on board, Wifi, GPS, water flow and speed of sound sensors, and the latest in sonar technology. It can dive 330 feet and cover 30 miles of water on missions up to 12 hours. Iver will return to the factory this winter and receive a high definition camera, lights and a satellite phone.
These combined features make Iver an impressive research tool. Meadows said: "You end up with a "survey quality" map of the bottom over the selected swath. The map size depends on the altitude of the robot above the lake floor, but at ten meters above the bottom you can map an entire football field."
For the full story, see Michigan Tech News.