Ice Class AUV Development
C & C Technologies, Inc. of Lafayette, Louisiana is spearheading a technical research program to advance the state of the art regarding under ice Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) survey operations. This program, funded by Shell, focuses on five areas of research, which include: 1) Remote Stations for AUV Navigation and Communication, 2) AUV Recovery by Net, 3) AUV Recovery by ROV, 4) AUV Upward Looking Multibeam Sonar, and 5) Collision Avoidance. Form factors for the remote stations were developed following the evaluation of the potential hardware components and an examination of AUV mission requirements. Analysis was performed to determine how best to utilize the remote stations to gain the maximum utility of an AUV under the ice. Two methods for facilitating the recovery of an AUV under ice were examined: 1) recovery by a deployed net and 2) recovery by an ROV. Net recovery research involved the construction of a full-scale prototype to deploy through a hole in the ice, extend, and capture the AUV. Research into ROV recovery under ice included developing a methodology to hold the AUV in place so it could be captured by the ROV. This involved the evaluation of several scenarios, which included securing the AUV to the sea floor with a drop anchor and making the AUV negatively buoyant with either a floodable ballast tank or by the release of syntactic foam. Research into the integration of an upward looking multibeam involved the analysis of currently available systems. A comparative analysis of power consumption, size, weight, and software interfacing of the potential candidate systems was performed. C & C collaborated with Kongsberg Maritime to enhance the HUGIN AUV’s collision avoidance system for under ice navigation and for marine mammal detection. This paper provides details on each of these five areas of research and details the scope, methodology, findings, and resulting recommendations.