NauticExpo e-Magazine - #10 – Underwater - NauticExpo e-Magazine

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Underwater World

For this new edition, NauticExpo e-magazine dives into the underwater world. Discover the Sea Orbiter, a spaceship-like vessel that will extend 31 meters below the surface. Drifting on the ocean currents, crew will observe and listen to the world beneath the waves. And while you may have heard of the Internet of Things, you now can discover the Internet of Underwater Things, which promises to revolutionize our interaction with the submarine environment.

Above the water this time, on the eve of the 35th America’s Cup we talked to Artemis Racing trimmer Christian Kamp, a man who holds strong views on the direction things are going in the wake of the foiling revolution. Enjoy the read!

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They'll drift on the ocean currents in order to observe and listen to the underwater world 24 hours a day.
The Sea Orbiter project (Courtesy of Jacques Rougerie)

Is it a ship or a spaceship? Scheduled for launch several years from now, Sea Orbiter will generate a gold mine of information benefitting scientific research, space exploration and education in general. We spoke to Frenchman Jacques Rougerie, the father of this future undersea observatory.   NE e-mag: What’s the idea...

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There are an incredible number of possibilities for IoUT and autonomous underwater vehicles.
Giant underwater city (Courtesy of

The Internet of Underwater Things promises to revolutionize our interaction with the submarine environment.


Today the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly spreading across the terrestrial and  aerial worlds. This network of so-called smart devices, each enabled with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity, is carrying data on an ever greater scale.

As the technology develops, the commercial and noncommercial benefits are increasingly compelling. Yet even as the IoT connects everything from home thermostats and refrigerators to shipping containers and drones, this web of wireless signals has yet to pervade the underwater environment.

The development of an Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT), transmitting data throughout the ocean could make possible a system of roaming, autonomous vehicles and underwater sensors, all communicating with each other and relaying information to networks above the surface. This could be used for a wide range of submarine tasks, from pipeline repair and shipwreck surveys to seismic detection and ecological monitoring.


HUGIN autonomous underwater vehicles (Courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime)

“There are an incredible number of possibilities for IoUT and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs),” says Richard Mills, director of sales at Norwegian AUV and marine robot developer Kongsberg Maritime. “The technology has finite bounds, but new applications are only limited by our imagination.”

Clusters of AUVs

Before the IoUT can become a practical and commercial reality, researchers face a raft of challenges. Chief among these is the fact that the electromagnetic waves used by conventional WiFi networks only travel a few centimeters in water.

The IoUT could be used for pipeline repair, shipwreck surveys, seismic detection and ecological monitoring.

While optical modems currently enable fairly large bandwidth communications between two or more closely-spaced underwater devices, acoustic signals are often chosen to communicate over long submarine distances. But these channels offer very limited bandwidth. Background noise, from both marine life and anthropogenic activity, can also lead to interference.

“The IoUT will require levels of interconnectivity not typically achievable with conventional underwater communications,” says Joe Tena, global business manager of Marine Robotics Systems with UK-based AUV instrumentation supplier Sonardyne. A research team based at Rome’s Sapienza University believes that one solution may be the use of clusters of AUVs which interact while performing different tasks. Flotillas of these vehicles would exchange information using low-power acoustic signals, similar to the way marine mammals such as whales and dolphins communicate and collaborate.


Hydroid's New Generation REMUS 100 AUV (Courtesy of Hydroid)

Hydroid’s New Generation REMUS 100 AUV (Courtesy of Hydroid)

The Sapienza team is currently working on new software and hardware for use in AUVs that can transmit images from the seabed using acoustic waves and dock with others for recharging. Surface buoys that receive GPS signals provide navigational capacity.

Smart AUV collaboration also has been facilitated by David Lane, a professor of autonomous engineering at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, who has developed a version of Dropbox for IoUT applications. Using this system, AUVs with different capabilities can share information and multitask.

AUVs will replace many remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the near future. Their ability to function without human intervention is already a huge advantage where no manipulation of objects is required. The cost of deploying an AUV is significantly lower than that of an ROV, while their autonomous nature minimizes the human effort needed during missions.

Defense and Research Applications

As the IoUT develops, it will facilitate new ways for AUVs to interact with the subsea environment. Such vehicles increasingly will be used to harvest data from instruments on the seabed for scientific monitoring and surveying oilfield infrastructure.

There is an increasing number of deep-water and under-ice research projects and new applications in defense.

“We will see acoustic communications transmitting information to AUVs over long distances, while optical modems enable data transfer between sensors and vehicles over shorter distances,” says Sonardyne’s Tena. “The entire network will  enable the provision of near-real-time updates to surface-based operators.”

With better submarine communications, the use of AUVs is already diversifying. There is an increasing number of deep-water and under-ice research projects, and new applications in defense and shallow-water seabed imagery.

“There has already been some success with swarms of small AUVs,” says Kongsberg’s Mills. “Now, we are about to see the results of a swarm of survey-class deep-water AUVs. The remote operation and supervision of launch, dive and recovery of AUVs from an unmanned surface vehicle may also happen sooner than many expect.”

AUV being lowered off the stern of the Aurora Australis during SIPEX-II in 2012 (Courtesy of Wendy Pyper)

AUV being lowered off the stern of the Aurora Australis during SIPEX-II in 2012 (Courtesy of Wendy Pyper)


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  • The Elan GT5 (Courtesy of NauticExpo)

    Following Les Nauticales boat show in the southern French city of La Ciotat, Blue Touch invited our in-house expert to deliver the Elan GT5 back to her home port of Marseille.



    The interior design and the quality of the furnishings merit the gran turismo label. With the GT5, you will surely enjoy fast and very comfortable cruising. The first thing you notice when you go below is the spaciousness and the headroom of the saloon. While the roof height means you have to step up and down to handle the mainsail, it makes for a excellent visibility forward. In addition, tall persons will appreciate being able to move through the cabin without ducking their heads. It also makes the cabin very bright, though we find the overall decor a bit monotone when the sunlight fades.

    You will also find plenty of stowage all around, a folding bench that transforms into either a chart table or a single berth, nicely designed switches and high-quality equipment and furnishings. The GT5 comes in four versions, with two or three cabins and one or two heads.


    We like the lines of this fast cruiser, based on the E5 and S5 hull featuring a pronounced chine. With a large cockpit and well organized Harken deck hardware close to the steering wheels, the invitation to sail is clear, while guests enjoy a comfortable ride. Seats with good backrests together with large tables to share food and drink provide a nice spot to relax without hindering boat handling.

    A barbeque and a fridge are hidden below the rear benches to make the most of the space. The stern platform is easily accessible, and it does not spoil the transom lines when it’s folded up.


    With a 40-hp Volvo Penta engine, a saildrive, twin rudders and a Quick bow thruster, maneuvering in and out the marina is easy. The GT5 turns nearly within its own length without using the bow thruster.

    As soon as the sails are set, even in the lightest breeze, the helm is responsive for a boat of this size. With six to eight knots on a flat sea, we moved easily at five knots. Farther offshore we had 12 knots of wind, choppy seas and a solid two meter residual swell. Despite these less-than-ideal conditions, the GT5 sailed surprisingly well at a good eight knot average. With the swell on the beam, it was remarkably stable. Arriving in Marseille in a thunderstorm and 25 knots of wind at 120 true wind angle, the twin rudders enabled the boat to track well under full mainsail and genoa.

    In conclusion, the GT5 is a fast, comfortable, seaworthy, high-quality cruiser.


    – Hull length: 12.41 m / 40′ 8″
    – Waterline length: 11.58 m / 37′ 1″
    – Beam: 3.91 m / 12′ 9″
    – Draft: 2.45 m / 8 ft
    – Ballast: 2700 kg / 5900 lbs
    – Light displacement: 8300 kg / 18,300 lbs
    – Mainsail: 44.6 m² / 480 ft²
    – Genoa: 38.1 m² / 410 ft²
    – Spinnaker: 135 m² / 1463 ft²
    – Hull construction: glassfiber-foam core-vinylester sandwich infusion
    – Architect: Humphreys Yacht Design

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    The Shark Marine dive tablet (Courtesy of Shark Marine)


    Scuba divers have long used just a compass for navigation. But innovations are expanding options, and a global competition is on to develop the ideal diver navigation device.


    To date, satellite navigation has been available only above the water’s surface. But Submarine Open Technologies ( says a revolution is underway for professional and recreational diver orientation. The French company claims to have created the “first GPS localization system for divers” permitting to see their position on a small map. It uses GPS signals relayed from a floating antenna.

    The American company Navimate also offers a wrist-mounted GPS enabling divers to determine exact location, mark interesting sites and communicate with other divers. And last year, NauticExpo e-magazine covered a Finnish product called Ariadna that shows divers depth, distance covered, the route taken and the way back to the boat. The race to develop new navigational tools faces challenges—creating a compact, affordable wrist-worn system, and developing an effective underwater data signal.

    GPS Antenna Buoy

    Divers cannot use standard GPS devices because the satellite signal does not reach underwater. To solve this problem, most developers rely on a GPS antenna buoy. An underwater transducer then sends an acoustic signal to the diver’s unit, which calculates the exact position of the buoy and the diver’s relative location. This appears to be a low-cost solution to the problem. Moïra Chanzy, president of, reports that their prototype using this system will be available at the end of 2017. GPS localization system for divers (Courtesy of

    GPS localization system for divers (Courtesy of

    In contrast, the Ariadna system uses sensors to determine position based on the diver’s swimming movements. On the surface, the GPS wrist unit determines initial position. Once submerged, it calculates the diver’s 3D underwater route and displays real-time position.

    Ariadna Tech has announced that this first-ever independent GPS-based underwater navigation technology is now operational. The initial model will be available later this year.


    GPS for divers (Courtesy of

    The Shark Marine Technologies dive tablet is already in use by naval forces and scientific professionals. It uses a combination of positioning options, including advanced dead reckoning, GPS, motion reference unit (MRU) and a doppler navigation system (DNS). The unit weighs 3.2 kg and constitutes an affordable solution for anyone requiring accurate underwater positioning.

    Their DNS doesn’t require a satellite fix or external transceivers once its initial position has been set. The MRU option provides an accurate compass and full 360 degree pitch and roll data.

    For subsea communications, Shark Marine uses a wireless multi-media data transfer method called Sub-Net.

    Read more about GPS Antenna Buoy on NauticExpo website.


    Michael Halpern

    Michael Halpern is a US-born and bred writer with experience in radio. He has lived in southern France for 15 years. Michael is the copy editor of NauticExpo e-magazine.

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    Daniel Allen

    Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The National Geographic Traveller.

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    Øyvind Bordal

    Øyvind Bordal is a norwegian writer and sailor, based in Denmark and Caribbean.


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    Wim Vercauter

    Wim Vercauter is a freelance boating editor and a fire safety expert.

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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She’s the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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    Ludovic Nachury

    Journalist and innovation enthusiast for more than 10 years, Ludovic Nachury is VirtualExpo e-magazine’s editor-in-chief.

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    Pascal Braud

    Pascal Braud is one of our content experts at NauticExpo.

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