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Tuesday, 06 May 2014

Submarine drones for ports

SUPPORT (Security UPgrade for PORTs), a research project partly funded by the European Union, will demonstrate two Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) designed to address underwater threats in ports, at an event in Lisbon on May 22nd.

Maritime consultancy BMT says that the equipment has been designed in partnership with Bristol Robotics Laboratory and SonarSim.

Luke Speller, senior research scientist at BMT Group, says that the AUV can “provide 24-hour surveillance and monitor port infrastructure for particular threats such as UIEDs (Underwater Improvised Explosion Devices).”

“A common issue with security solutions and AUVs is the high cost of systems,” he notes. “Therefore it was important for us to look at ways of designing a low-cost solution which could help improve overall port security.”

BMT says that the AUV is “a cost-effective prototype which utilises intelligent algorithms and behaviour, in order to leverage as much as possible from low-cost sensors.”

Besides detecting underwater bombs, the AUV could be used to “monitor pollution, conduct radiation testing or inspect the hull of a ship,” says Mr Speller.

A collaboration of 21 European organisations, SUPPORT integrates legacy port systems with new surveillance and information management systems. It aims to create automated solutions in order to raise the current level of port security. 

Another output of the four-year research project is a Sea Side Intrusion Detection System (SSID). Developed by the Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI, the automatic detection of divers, swimmers and small crafts relies on subsea and surface sensors including hydrophones, Infra-Red cameras, video cameras and radars. 

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