Underwater technology in focus at KTH

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) are about to revolutionize the polar research community, and they are getting an increasingly important role in oceanographic research as well as in military operations. KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology, is building up research on underwater technology.
 
 
The AUV developed at KTH. Photo: KTH Centre for Naval Architecture
 
During recent years KTH has built up research on the subject of autonomous underwater vehicles, in the research areas mission planning, multi vehicle cooperation as well as in vehicle performance and control. 
- There hasn’t been an academic residency for underwater technology before in Sweden. We want to fill that place, and be a hub to gather and bring together those in Sweden who are working with this, says Ivan Stenius, Assistant Professor at KTH. 
 
The research group at KTH is vibrating and has started several new collaborations recently, for example with the company DeepVision in Linköping, who develops sonar systems, and with the University of Gothenburg and their Arctic research group. KTH is now looking to find new partners who work with underwater technology, it can be researchers, technology companies, governmental bodies, organisations etc. 
- Underwater vessels are dependent on such a broad range of technologies, which means that there’s a need for broad and multidisciplinary knowledge including for example advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and sophisticated energy supply, says Ivan Stenius.
 
 
Ivan Stenius, Assistant Professor at KTH.
 

KTH has developed their own autonomous underwater vehicle, including both hardware and navigation, guidance and control algorithms. It’s a small, relatively inexpensiv research vessel, which fits in a suitcase. It’s run by an electric motor, use an iridium satellite modem and GPS, and can operate for about 24 hours. These vessels should essentially be regarded as sensor carrying platforms, and the beauty is that they can be equipped with a number of different instruments depending on what you want to use them for.
- One aim of the future use of AUV:s can for example be to operate in Arctic polar research to gather data about areas under the ice, it could reach places that are less known to man than the planet Mars. But we also have important problems in our close neighborhood with polluted seas and need for monitoring the underwater environment where these vessels can play a crucial role for monitoring, data collection and harbor protection for example, says Ivan Stenius.

Aron Helmstad is a PhD student working with the KTH-AUV project. He is currently developing an accurate simulation model in Simulink for the vehicle.
- It would be a great benefit for us, to easily progress to a much more efficient way of operating, says Aron.