With the Research Platform Maritime Systems, a unique research base for current and future research and industrial projects was founded. With the help of this Research Platform it is now possible to test hardware (sensors, actuators, etc.) and algorithms over the entire year.
Within the project "TIETEK", Fraunhofer AST and other institutes developed an underwater vehicle that operates autonomously in a diving depth of up to 6000 meters. The core of that AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) is the vehicle guidance system, which is completely designed, evaluated and extended at the Fraunhofer AST in Ilmenau. The guidance software is designed as a vehicle independent system, so it could also be used for other underwater vehicles. Therefore, it can subsequently be offered to the industry. All existing underwater vehicles of the Fraunhofer AST will be equipped and controlled with that system in an additional stage. The test basin offers an ideal setting for this purpose, for example, to implement individual extensions for the highly specialized underwater vehicles in a cheap and quick way.
Experimental Autonomous Underwater Vehicle: ExAUV
Further works are dealing with the inspection of underwater structures (docks, pipelines on the seabed) and ship hulls, particularly in the research project "CView" founded by the BMWi. A parallel pre-ride of specified structures requires a data fusion of all vehicle sensors and a control system, which is able to detect potential problems (obstacles, tides, etc.) in real time.
Besides the underwater structure tracking, underwater manipulation is a major challenge. Therewith, a broken pipeline or a hull leak can be repaired completely remote controlled. Additionally, the autonomous docking of an underwater vehicle to existing underwater infrastructure or other underwater vehicles will be part of future research.
Furthermore, the possibility of communication between several underwater vehicles (swarm) will be tested. These basic communication structures will be tested and evaluated, before a practical test is made at a dam or in the open sea.