Offshore Industry News

Enabling a Breakthrough in Hybrid Underwater Vehicles

The Fusion is a breakthrough in hybrid underwater vehicles. In a unique way, it combines AUV and ROV capabilities with diver navigation and propulsion- into just one system. Why was Nortek’s DVL essential to make this leap forward possible?

Crafty engineering and high-end bespoke sensors have produced an underwater vehicle with efficient, capable and robust design. Jesse Rodocker, President at Strategic Robotic Systems, emphasizes the importance of Nortek’s innovations in DVLs to make this possible. ”Both the electronics and transducers are smaller and have a better form factor for the Fusion underwater vehicle. The higher frequency for increased accuracy is of huge value for aiding the Fusion’s automated control and navigation system. The added dedicated altimeter provides more accurate altitude directly below the Fusion for better terrain following.”

Nortek’s 1 MHz DVL has a bottom track that ranges from 20 cm to 50 m, and its housing is available with a 4000 m pressure rating. Even when offering this capacity, it is the industry’s smallest DVL, and is easy to integrate and operate.

More efficient, capable and cost effective

The Fusion underwater vehicle has a unique in-line transducer arrangement and Nortek has been there to help with this design. Nortek’s contributions included recommendations and minor tweaks to make the vehicle work optimally.

”The Fusion is a real first”, says Jesse Rodocker, emphasizing that it is a true hybrid that has extended capability in all modes. The Fusion breaks with tradition by uniquely combining several underwater systems into a single platform.

”There isn’t a system on the market that combines the AUV, ROV and diver functionality in the same way. Fusion is also really the only system to be built from the ground up with a specific suite of sensors in such a tightly integrated package”, Rodocker explains.

The specific suite of sensors refers to inclusion of a multi-beam forward-looking sonar, side-scan sonar, USBL, DVL and AHRS. Most other platforms do not include these as standard and are certainly not integrated as tightly as in Fusion. This design makes the Fusion more efficient, capable and cost effective. For example,its design means reduced need for training and greater mission capability.

A fresh perspective on underwater systems

Strategic Robotic Systems was founded with the premise of developing the next generation in underwater systems by approaching this challenge from a fresh perspective. They needed a partner with an equally fresh perspective as they were looking for navigation technology to be integrated in their new underwater vehicle.

”One of Nortek’s clients recommended us to work with Nortek because of the new technologies in its portfolio and the company’s ability to collaborate with partner companies. I was struck by Nortek’s progressive, forward-looking thinking and soon found out we had common interests”, says Jesse Rodocker.

”The collaboration has been fantastic. The team at Nortek has been very knowledgeable and responsive. There hasn’t been a “it can’t be done” or “too hard” or “very expensive”.”

Potential for future product development

As Strategic Robotic Systems shifts into production and delivery of the Fusion, collaboration with Nortek will continue to make the Fusion truly the best vehicle out there.

”Who knows what future products might be developed from this fruitful collaboration?”, Jesse Rodocker concludes.

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