The Royal Navy of Great Britain is testing a robotic boat designed to explore uncharted bodies of water.
A crew of only three people can carry out mapping of water spaces at a speed unacceptable to most modern counterparts
One of the greatest, albeit lesser known, accomplishments of the Royal Navy is the extensive mapping of waterways around the world. Thanks to this, sailors at one time had accurate maps, some of which remained relevant century after century. This is a blessing of the fleet and its curse, because even nautical charts need to be updated periodically.
The problem is that the sea simply refuses to cooperate, resting in place. Constant erosion, sedimentation, earthquakes, changes in water levels and shifting currents make marine cartography an extremely challenging job. Of course, human activity also contributes, which includes dredging, channel modification, moving buoys, plane crashes, sinking ships and all kinds of structures sinking or collapsing right in the ocean.
To cope with this Sisyphean labor these days, the UK Navy is looking for remotely controlled and autonomous boats to take on some of the workload. As part of this project, RS Aqua Ltd’s Otter Pro robot was deployed on Lake Khorsa with an area of 7,000 m2 to collect sonar images of the water, the seabed and objects on it. During the two-hour test, the team mapped the structural collapse marks of the sunken day cruiser, speedboat, and helicopter, and also discovered streamlines and seabed erosion caused by divers.
The test will now take place in a more challenging environment, where Otter Pro will demonstrate near real-time processing and testing of the Norbit multibeam echo sounder and other sonar devices.
“On their first trip, the scientists explored Lake Khorsa in 40 minutes and then created an updated map in just an hour. This was achieved with the help of a team of three who did not need a boat or dock to launch. During the shooting, two took on the role of a pilot and a navigator, and the third was processing the data in real time, ”the authors of the experiment note. They said it would be difficult for existing platforms to achieve that kind of performance if they needed to respond quickly to an Emergency.