About robots, robot development
and those who make it happen


Successful Test Makai's Bottom-Skimming Robot

January 27, 2015

B-SAUV from Makai
B-SAUV from Makai Picture: Makai

Makai and UH Successfully Test Aquatic Bottom-Skimming Robot.

A joint effort of the Hawaii based Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc. and the University of Hawaii (UH) resulted in the development of a new and original ‘hybrid’ aquatic robot: an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) called "Bottom-Skimming AUV".

Makai and the UH have been working on the AUV since 2011 and recently finished a successful test and demonstration of the complete prototype vehicle in a real-life oceanic scenario. This test, which was held in November 2014, confirmed that the operation of all critical subsystems and vehicle controls were working as planned. 

B-SAUV Trenching
Makai's Bottom-Skimming Robot Trenching the Seabed - image: Makai

Unique AUV

What makes the Bottom-Skimming AUV so original is that it combines the features of a bottom-crawling vehicle and those of a free-swimming AUV. This enables the robot to be more effective and efficient in deploying seabed-sensing equipment.

The way the B-SAUV interacts with the ocean floor is achieved by its ability to autonomously adjust its weight using dynamically controlling of its buoyancy. This is what makes the Bottom-Skimming AUV so unique.

B-SUAV Trenching
Makai's Bottom-Skimming Robot Trenching - image: Makai

Three Modes

The B-SAUV travels through the ocean using a combination of its thrusters and three different modes of buoyancy:

  • Low Buoyancy: in this mode the B-SAUV presses with its full weight on the ocean floor.
  • Medium Buoyancy: in this mode the B-SAUV lightly ‘skims’ along the bottom at a desired weight, to adjust for existing bottom conditions.
  • High Buoyancy: this mode is used to overcome obstacles by letting the B-SAUV temporarily ‘fly’ above the ocean floor.

In addition to dynamically controlling its buoyancy, The robot's onboard computer hardware and software system enables it to autonomously navigate to a predefined location and install oceanographic sensors in the ocean floor. These sensors are carried as a payload within the body of the B-SAUV and can then be used for remote sensing and environmental monitoring.


About MAKAI:

Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc. is a diversified oceanic engineering company, which provides, innovative ocean technology and development.

Based in Hawaii, USA since 1973, Makai’s expertise includes submarine cable software and services, marine pipelines, Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC), Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), underwater vehicles, and general marine engineering and R&D.

One of their main achievements in the field of robotics was their approval of a patent for an Autonomous Underwater Array Burial System. This aquatic robot System provides a means for burying undersea cables to protect them from damage by trawling or ship anchors. 

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