Autonomous Underwater Drone Improves Ocean Accessibility

A recent article by Leif Hugo Arntsen, CEO of Transmark Subsea, and Craig Anderson, co-founder of Boxfish Robotics, describes the development and delivery of ARV-i (Autonomous Resident Vehicle). The compact and manoevrable autonomous underwater drone increases ocean accessibility for offshore industries.

The underwater drone offers a more affordable and user-friendly alternative to traditional ROV and AUV systems. ARV-i features a pinless underwater connection that wirelessly transfers power and data between two transducers. The ARV-i team combined this technology with a small battery-powered underwater vehicle to create a lower-cost system that can access tight spots. Thus, improving the possibilities for exploring and commercializing ocean resources. 

Use of the Autonomous Underwater Drone in Aquaculture

ARV-i has been applied in salmon farming off the west coast of Norway. The technology provides the ability to understand the health of the fish, monitor environmental conditions, and track feeding and growth.

Developing a solution to control ARV-i while avoiding entanglement in the salmon cage was a challenge. Acoustic technology was deemed unsuitable, so the answer was to use free-space optical (FSO) modems to enable wireless drone control.

However, the FSO was unreliable in Norwegian sunlight. Subsequently, the team decided to go fully autonomous. The underwater drone uses hardware and software that enables positioning and control via USBL acoustic positioning and machine vision cameras. 

Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Aquaculture

Continuous Monitoring of Subsea Structures

The ARV-i system has demonstrated its ability to live off-grid and participate in renewable energy projects. The underwater drone has its own power and generator, making it deployable anywhere. In addition, the ARV-i data collection hardware can combine with analytic software to enable a Digital Twin of the environment. This capability is helpful in continuously monitoring subsea structures.

ARV-i represents a significant step forward in reducing the cost and increasing the accessibility of ocean exploration and commercialization. The underwater drone enables untrained operators to observe and interact with the aquatic environment from anywhere in the world.

Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle ARV-i Demonstration - Video Still

Download the PDF to read the full article, Resident Underwater Drone: Fully Automated Small Vehicle Increase Ocean Accessibility, in Sea Technology Magazine.