The autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) market has grown over the last decade, and Hydroid’s REMUS vehicles have become the tool of choice for military and commercial markets worldwide.
Hydroid is a Massachusetts marine robotics firm, founded in 2001 by a team of engineers, led by Christopher von Alt, who invented the REMUS technology base at The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the late nineties.
The company was established with aim to manufacture, support and further develop the REMUS AUV technology. All products are designed, manufactured, marketed and sold from the Hydroid facility in Cape Cod.
At the end of 2007, Kongsberg Maritime, a Norwegian technology enterprise within the Kongsberg Gruppen, acquired Hydroid to add REMUS to its existing fleet of HUGIN AUVs.
The company has recently released an improved version of its REMUS 100 and its president Duane Fotheringham was kind to lets us know more about the upgraded AUV and what’s next for Hydroid.
This year’s Oceanology International event has witnessed the launch of the New Generation REMUS 100 autonomous underwater vehicle, how was the feedback?
We received very positive feedback from our users and potential customers. The increased mission performance, open architecture and future extensibility really resonated with the market. We are confident that we have created a vehicle that fulfills our customers’ current and future needs for leading technology, while maintaining the core offerings of the REMUS brand they have trusted for years.
How long has it taken you to develop the new vehicle and what are the advantages of the updated REMUS 100 AUV?
We have been working on the upgrades over the last 24 months. We took an in depth look at the existing vehicle and upgraded the technology throughout the vehicle. Over the years, since Hydroid started in 2001, we have increased the REMUS capability offered to our customers through many incremental improvements, but this is a completely new generation product incorporating state-of-the-art technology while maintaining the quality and heritage of the REMUS brand. Design upgrades include:
• Advanced Core Electronics: The New Generation REMUS 100 features cutting-edge core electronics (CE) designed to replace not only the previous REMUS motherboard but also the CPU stack, emergency board and six serial cards. The new CE board is smaller and lighter than the components it replaces, and it uses an ARM +FPGA architecture that makes it both potent and versatile while consuming less than 5W of power—about 25 percent of the power required by the earlier version.
• Open Architecture: The New Generation REMUS 100 expands on existing REMUS capabilities by adding an open architecture platform for advanced autonomy making the vehicle more versatile. This platform is realized with a publish subscribe database based on a Robotic Operating System (ROS) on a second processor. The new REMUS “front seat” performs control functions using well-tested, reliable proprietary control software. The “back seat” performs mission tasks, such as side scan sonar data logging and extensibility using Hydroid, customer, or third party applications.
• Flexible Navigation Suite: The New Generation REMUS 100 includes an exclusive conformal design, phased array transducer 300kHz Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) in the rear of the vehicle. This design significantly increases bottom-tracking range to improve overall navigation performance. In addition, the REMUS 100 will now be available with a choice of inertial navigation system (INS) to suit each customer’s navigation needs and budget.
• High Capacity Battery Pack: Equipped with Hydroid’s latest 18650 Li-Ion based packs, the New Generation REMUS 100 AUVs carry more energy than ever before. The packs use 3.2Ah Li-Ion cells and have the same electrical configuration as the REMUS 600 pack currently in use.
• Modular Elliptical Nose: The redesigned elliptical nose on the New Generation REMUS 100 reduces drag by up to 20 percent. In addition, it’s acoustically transparent, so that the acoustic communications (ACOMMS) transducer can be relocated inside the nose. Because the new nose uses the same modular interface on the existing REMUS 100, it can be easily integrated on both current payload modules and the New Generation REMUS 100.
Few months back, you’ve released an innovative Line Capture Line Recovery (LCLR) which enables autonomous launch and recovery of a vehicle, what’s next on Hydroid’s research and development plan?
Continued investment in our technology through product improvement, research and development is critical to Hydroid’s future success. We plan to continue a steady release of new products and improvments in capabilities. While we do not discuss particulars of our plans prior to product release, you can expect to see the new generation product improvements released for the REMUS 100 ripple into our other product lines such as the REMUS 600 and 6000.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles market and application of marine robots is expanding every day, where do you see the most potential in the next two years?
The markets and applications continue to expand as well as the increased acceptance of the AUV as a trusted tool to accomplish missions previously conducted by manned platforms. We have continued to see steady growth with both our commercial and academic markets, but the largest growth has been and is expected to continue to be in the military applications. Hydroid has been very successful with the MK18 (REMUS based) Family of Systems in the U.S. Navy and a REMUS vehicle was the first to be launched and recovered from an operational U.S. submarine in 2015. We hope to continue this success, built on the trust and reliability of our products, and expand our presence in these markets.
You’ve strengthened your footprint in East through Japan’s SEA Corporation, can we expect expansions to other regions in the future?
We are very proud of the success that we have had with the Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMOD) and partnership that we have with SEA Corporation as an authorized REMUS service center in Japan. We currently have REMUS vehicles in 17 countries around the world, with two new additions in 2015, and expect to continue that expansion in the future.