Fresh juice


Advanced Navigation's Hydrus drone reveals massive 210-foot shipwreck

In a groundbreaking expedition that pushes the boundaries of underwater exploration, Advanced Navigation, a pioneering developer of AI robotics and navigation technology, has harnessed the power of its cutting-edge Hydrus underwater drone to uncover a remarkable 210-foot (64-meter) shipwreck scattered across the seabed of the Rottnest ship graveyard. This historic discovery, made in the depths of the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Western Australia, serves as a testament to the transformative potential of advanced robotics in unlocking the mysteries that lie beneath the ocean's surface.



The Rottnest ship graveyard, a dense repository of abandoned ships dating back to the 1900s, has long been a tantalizing site for maritime historians and archaeologists. With depths ranging from 164 to 656 feet (50 to 200 meters), this underwater treasure trove has remained largely unexplored, as traditional methods of underwater exploration have proved both risky and prohibitively expensive.


Enter Advanced Navigation's Hydrus, a relatively small yet remarkably capable underwater drone that is revolutionizing the way we approach deep-sea exploration. Alec McGregor, the company's photogrammetry specialist, expressed confidence in the drone's capabilities, stating, "We've found through all of our testing that Hydrus is very reliable, and it will complete its mission and come to the surface or come to its designated return point. And then you can just scoop it up with a net from the side of the boat."


Humans have charted a mere 24% of the ocean, leaving a vast unexplored realm that is estimated to harbor more than 3 million undiscovered shipwrecks. Western Australia's shores alone are home to 1,819 recorded wrecks, each one a potential treasure trove of historical and scientific insights. Advanced Navigation's collaboration with the Western Australian (WA) Museum and the deployment of Hydrus have opened a new chapter in our quest to uncover these submerged secrets.


Traditionally, deep-sea exploration has relied on either highly trained divers or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). While these methods have yielded invaluable insights, they come with significant risks, costs, and logistical challenges. McGregor highlighted the advantages of Hydrus, stating, "Some of the drawbacks with using traditional methods include having to have big support vessels. And getting the actual ROVs in and out of the water sometimes requires a crane, whereas with the Hydrus, you can just chuck it off the side of the boat."


One of the key innovations that sets Hydrus apart is Advanced Navigation's pioneering approach to "wet electronics." Unlike conventional ROVs that rely on pressure chambers to protect sensitive electronics, Hydrus employs a technique of potting its electronics in a plastic material, eliminating the need for a bulky pressure vessel. This ingenious solution not only reduces weight and increases buoyancy but also enhances maneuverability and enables deeper exploration.


Once submerged, Hydrus operates with remarkable autonomy, navigating the underwater realm without the need for a tethered connection. While real-time communication is limited, the drone can receive simple commands and transmit its position through acoustic communications, allowing for a degree of remote oversight while maintaining its self-guided capabilities.


In the case of the Rottnest shipwreck, Advanced Navigation collaborated closely with the WA Museum, leveraging their expertise to narrow down the search area. Hydrus was then deployed on a reconnaissance mission, gathering high-resolution 4K geo-referenced imagery and video footage that enabled the team to reconstruct a detailed 3D digital twin of the wreck.


Ross Anderson, a curator at the WA Museum, meticulously examined the digital model, revealing that the wreck was an over 100-year-old coal hulk from the bygone days of Fremantle Port. These historic vessels once serviced the region's steamships, offering a fascinating glimpse into Western Australia's maritime past.


However, the potential of Hydrus extends far beyond shipwreck exploration. Advanced Navigation is actively engaged in coral reef monitoring, leveraging the drone's capabilities to create detailed 3D reconstructions of these vital ecosystems. This data not only aids in scientific research but also supports conservation efforts by providing invaluable insights into the health and dynamics of coral reefs.


In the case of the Rottnest shipwreck, Hydrus demonstrated its cost-effectiveness, reducing surveying costs by up to 75% and enabling more frequent and extensive exploration within a shorter timeframe. This remarkable achievement underscores the transformative potential of advanced robotics in unlocking the secrets of the ocean depths, while simultaneously minimizing the risks and expenses associated with traditional methods.


As Advanced Navigation continues to push the boundaries of underwater exploration, the discoveries made by Hydrus serve as a powerful reminder of the vast untapped knowledge that lies beneath the waves. With each mission, this innovative drone brings us one step closer to unraveling the mysteries of our planet's oceans, shedding light on our maritime heritage, and deepening our understanding of the intricate ecosystems that sustain life on Earth.

Share with friends:

Write and read comments can only authorized users