VESSEL REVIEW | Italy’s Lighthouse gets autonomous craft with 4,500-metre diving capability

Photo: Kongsberg
Photo: Kongsberg

Norwegian maritime technology company Kongsberg Maritime has handed over a new Hugin autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to Italian survey company Lighthouse.

The AUV is rated to 4,500 metres and is equipped with a full geophysical survey payload, including a Kongsberg HISAS 1032 synthetic aperture sonar, EM2040 multibeam echosounder, sub-bottom profiler, camera and laser, together with a range of environmental sensors.

The scope of supply extends to all equipment required for day-to-day operations, including a 30-foot (nine-metre) AUV container housing the dedicated launch and recovery system, battery chargers, and maintenance equipment. A 10-foot (three-metre) operations room container is configured for mission planning and dive management as well as data download and review. As a standard feature, the operator station in this container comes with a monitor and an operator panel with interfaces to payload operator stations and vessel-mounted sensors like GPS, a ship attitude sensor, an acoustic link, and RF link systems.

As with other AUVs in the Hugin series, the Lighthouse craft can operate without tethers, cables, or remote control, making it suitable for a broad range of applications. Also, the modular design allows different payload configurations depending on operator requirements. Thanks to Kongsberg's proprietary payload management system, all of the fitted sensors can function simultaneously, and the data gathered by the sensors are time-stamped at source to ensure accurate geo-referencing for later assessment by operators.

The torpedo-shaped, titanium-hulled AUV measures only six metres by one metre and displaces 1.9 tonnes. It boasts self-righting ability as well as a high degree of manoeuvrability, being able to execute a 180-degree turn within a radius of 15 metres. Thanks to its onboard high-endurance batteries, it can operate for up to 60 hours in between rechargings.

The AUV is equipped with an acoustic communication link through which status monitoring of the vehicle and payload sensors is provided to the operator in real-time. The craft itself can be operated in fully autonomous mode, semi-autonomous mode wherein the AUV follows a pre-planned route but gives the operator the opportunity to monitor the mission status, or supervised mode where the operator is provided with real-time payload data for quality management purposes and also ensures the best position accuracy by updating the AUV using an advanced three-dimensional acoustic positioning system.

Kongsberg said that the Lighthouse AUV was also custom-configured to perform automatic pipeline following. Through this approach, the AUV uses real-time data from the HISAS and EM2040 systems to detect pipelines, tracking either alongside or over the top of them to collect sonar, camera, and laser data.

The new Hugin AUV was delivered in March and has since been performing geophysical surveys on behalf of Lighthouse's customers.

Type of vessel:AUV – Survey
Owner:Lighthouse, Italy
Operator:Lighthouse, Italy
Designer:Kongsberg Maritime, Norway
Builder:Kongsberg Maritime, Norway
Hull construction material:Titanium
Length overall:6.0 metres
Beam:1.0 metre
Displacement:1.9 tonnes
Depth sounder:Kongsberg EM2040
Sonar:Kongsberg HISAS 1032
Other electronics:Kongsberg laser; Kongsberg acoustic positioning system
Type of fuel:Battery power

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World