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

    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 city-mankato.us)

    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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    This America’s Cup is very different from the previous ones. The foiling revolution has changed so much, and not all of it for the better.
    Christian Kamp from the Artemis team (Courtesy of Sander van der Borch)

    What factors will determine the outcome of the 35th America’s Cup? Where is the sport actually heading in the wake of the foiling revolution? Trimmer Christian Kamp from the Swedish sailing team Artemis Racing shares his thoughts.   “We start out every morning with two hours of grinding. That’s basically all we do on...

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    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 is a freelance boating editor and a fire safety expert.

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    Celia Sampol

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