Danish company, Maridan, has recently completed test trials of Eurodocker, a technology that will allow autonomous underwater vehicles (UAV’s) to automatically latch onto an underwater docking station.
The main objective of the Eurodocker project was to demonstrate technology necessary to accomplish the task of automatically docking an AUV for data transfer and power connections to a docking station, which is either lowered from a surface ship or mounted to an unmanned underwater platform on the sea-bed.
‘With the completion of the Eurodocker project, AUV docking technology has matured significantly,’ said Anders Bjerrum, Maridan’s Technology Director.
‘Besides developing the dock itself, the project has resulted in successful development of advanced algorithms to take into account the effect of waves and currents,’ added Bjerrum. ‘Advanced VRML 3D graphics were developed to enable computer models to simulate docking procedures to a degree where they can be used for operator training.’
The Eurodocker Docking-Down-Loading-Recharging (DDLR) system consists of a Mechatronic Docking Device mounted to a support platform and its counterpart onboard the AUV, the Mechanical Docking Device.
The trials of the docking system were performed at various AUV depth intervals ranging from surface level to full submergence.
The docking station and the underlying concept has been developed as a fully working model concept, and is now said to be ready for exploitation as a commercial offshore solution.