Gliders and sea explorer
Underwater gliders constitute a new generation of autonomous underwater platforms with great promises that open up the field of some maritime activities, such us underwater monitoring, in a way that has never been realized before. They are highly capable autonomous sensing platforms dedicated to collecting water column measurements at a wide range of spatio-temporal coverage (even up to global scale). Glider motions are controllable and their propulsion system provides up to several months endurance to operate at local, regional and basin scales Today, integrated hardware and software suites allows 24/7 supervision of gliders and near-real time basic data examination and dissemination from any place in the world.
Based on the design and experience of the SEA EXPLORER, two new glider versions will be designed to address market needs for the next 25 years. One glider will be technologically and economically optimized for services to 2400 m (Deep Explorer) the other one for 2400 m down to 5000 m (UltraDeep Explorer). To free these platforms from the tyranny of zig-zag dive profiles (which is problematic for key markets, e.g. sea bed survey, plume mapping), these two gliders will have hybrid propulsion (buoyancy and propeller engine) and a novel management of the payload power consumption suitable to increase endurance and to accommodate the range of sensing capabilities needed for each kind of service. Standardization and integration of all components in a systemic approach will be central in the project to optimize the use and operation of these platforms for each kind of services.
BRIDGES will provide an efficient and low-cost solution, but also provide high reliability for long-endurance missions. The development will lead to the design and production of a complex Mechatronic device, and lots of effort will be deployed to produce a “Better Machines” (Robotics 2020, Strategic Research Agenda for Robotics in Europe). Choice of materials and architecture will aim to reduce the vehicle dry weight to allow easy launch and recovery