International premiere: The Karlsruhe scientists test their autonomous deep-sea robotic system in a bathing lake
Karlsruhe 17th July 2017 – The Arggonauts, the only German team that has made it to the 7$ million Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize competition, publicly demonstrated their deep-sea- robotic system for the first time.
During the public display and trial of the device, essential functions and features were tested – like their launching and rescue system. This was done on a quarry pond next to the village of Freistett at Rheinau.
The autonomous underwater vehicles, devised to explore the ocean floor, are to be deployed in this year’s first round of the Xprize Challenge. The Team of the Fraunhofer IOSB had already reached the semifinals in February this year under the guidance of Dr. Gunnar Brink.
Important landmark for the Arggonauts Team of the Fraunhofer IOSB
“This test is an important landmark on our way to the decisive phase of the competition. We are working out pretty good chances for ourselves of making it under the top ten international teams. Today’s results endorse our predictions” Dr Gunnar Brink
Dr. Brink is leader of the Strategy and Innovation sector of the Fraunhofer IOSB and team leader of the Arggonauts. The demonstration conducted by the Arggonauts was followed with great interest by political, economic and scientific representatives. This first test included the employment of the autonomous underwater device: “Great Diver”, and of the surface vehicle: “Water Strider”.
The display employed of the two devices in the launching and rescue processes. These were executed with the aid of an unmanned catamaran, which took the underwater device to the deployment site and carted it afterwards. During the actual competition, five underwater devices are supposed to remain in the depths over 16 hours, chart at least 150 square kilometers and provide high-resolution images.
“What seems like an easy task, at a depth of 50 meters, proved to be an enormous challenge in waters 2000 or 4000 meters deep. On the open sea, extreme conditions are to be met, which significantly constrain communication and orientation”, Brink added.
The Arggonauts: Exploiting the ecological and scientific potential of the deep sea
Approximately 95% of the deep sea is almost entirely unknown to us. So far, intense measurements were not undertaken, due to technological and economic obstacles. The protection of the fragile deep sea biotope is determined by an exhaustive knowledge of the marine habitat. Also, this knowledge facilitates a sustainable and efficient exploitation of the oceans’ natural resources. The Innovation Competition organized by the Xprize and Shell Foundation aims at achieving a tremendous technological leap in the exploration of the deep sea.
The Arggonauts, a team of scientists from the Fraunhofer IOSB, are the only German team among the remaining 25 crews in the competition. “The revealing of the deep sea mysteries is a very exciting process. I am very happy that the Fraunhofer IOSB team has come so far in the competition and can, hopefully make it into the finals as one of the best 10 crews. The success of the Arggonauts proves that the scientific research in Baden-Würrtemberg is being conducted on the highest international level” insisted the secretary of state from the ministry of Economy, Labour and Housing, Katrin Schütz. Besides, the secretary of state and the member of Bundestag’s Research Committee, Dr Stefan Kaufmann (both members of the CDU), several representatives of the econonomic sector were also present.
Who are the Arggonauts?
The ARGGONAUTS are a research and development project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, Systemtechnik und Bildauswertung (IOSB) in cooperation with Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Within the framework of the “Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE”, the team, headed by Dr. Gunnar Brink autonomous deep sea robot systems for the exploration and mapping of the sea. The ARGGONAUTS are located in two locations of the Fraunhofer IOSB in Karlsruhe and Ilmenau.
More information: https://arggonauts.de/
Dr. Oliver Langewitz
English Translation: Sandra Bihlmaier
Images: © Sandra Bihlmaier