Deep Sea Robotics

Short description of the project

Maritime technologies will play a decisive economic and scientific role in the future, with the deep sea playing a major role. With the generally rising costs of raw material procurement, the attractiveness of deep-sea deposits is increasing. Their development requires exploration and measurement, their operation requires regular monitoring (inspection). The same applies to raw material transport pipelines and cables for information and energy transmission. The exploration of flora and fauna as well as the geological structures of the oceans, especially under the influence of the earth's climatic changes, also requires the use of autonomous underwater vehicles suitable for deep-sea use.

The necessary technologies for exploration and especially inspection in the deep sea are not yet sufficiently developed and still too expensive. So far, only a few highly specialized, very expensive underwater vehicles are available for this purpose, although many tasks are routine activities that can be performed automatically. There is a lack of cost-effective modular systems that can be adapted to the tasks to be solved. Above all, there is a lack of efficient energy storage systems, high-resolution sensors, effective methods for the evaluation of sensor data, and command and control systems for a wide range of tasks of future underwater vehicles.

Project goals

In the Fraunhofer joint project TIETeK, an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) is being developed to demonstrate the technologies for serving these markets.

Intelligent multi-sensor technology and ultrasound imaging sensors, whose information is fused, provide the AUV with inspection and exploration capabilities. These technologies developed at the IOSB (Karlsruhe site) will be integrated into the above-mentioned demonstrator, which will be used as a test and acquisition platform.
An automatic inspection and exploration of underwater areas requires the reliable localization or navigation of the underwater vehicle. Similar to autonomously navigating mobile land robots, a robust positioning (localization) of the underwater vehicle can be achieved by using several complementary and/or redundant sensors and merging their measurement data.

Concepts and procedures for the robust localization and navigation of underwater vehicles and for the realization of the planned inspection and exploration capabilities are developed. In the foreground are the following tasks:


  • Development of suitable localization algorithms for the robust positioning of underwater vehicles in the operation area by fusion of the demonstrator basic sensor technology (e.g. accelerometer, gyrometer, compass, DVL) as well as the imaging ultrasonic sensor technology and later further sensors,
  • Sensor data evaluation and sensor data fusion of the inspection and exploration sensor technology for environmental monitoring and mapping of the submarine area as well as the development of various software modules for automatic exploration and mapping in the operation area.

Project partners

  • Maritime Systems of Fraunhofer AST in Ilmenau

Department MRD of Fraunhofer IOSB

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