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Autonomous underwater glider for passive acoustic monitoring
Group Members
Cristophor Butuc-Mayer, Max Hammick, Noah Han, Sam Lloyd-Williams, Ilias Papadopoulos, Gavin Vales
Dr Jonathan Downes, Dr Blair Thornton
Ultra Electronics
Sea Blended-wing Underwater Glider (SeaBUG) is an autonomous vehicle for Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) in the ocean. PAM has many applications, including monitoring marine mammals, security and surveying marine ecosystems, where light and surface communications cannot reach. Typically, PAM is expensive because it is conducted from research vessel requiring a large crew, fuel and with limited time.

SeaBUG is an innovative alternative, providing a low-cost, quiet and scalable platform that is capable of autonomously conducting PAM missions with high endurance and low environmental footprint. The prototype has been designed with an anchor, which SeaBUG can deploy to keep the vehicle in place and minimise expended energy, thus extending its operational endurance.

A new control system, comprising of modular bladders, inflate or deflate to orient and propel the craft. The bladders remove the need for external moving parts and allow the glider to return home after it is released from its anchor. Combining vehicle propulsion and manoeuvring into one element reduces complexity and improves reliability in the harsh marine environment.

The hull was optimised using computational fluid dynamics simulations, to maximise the vehicle’s range. The hull was further tested in the wind tunnel to test dynamics, stability and validate simulations. An internal structure was designed to ensure components remained in position and that the glider would not fail.

An acoustic hydrophone array spanning the leading edge gives SeaBUG the ability to listen, locate, and identify noise sources underwater. The array has been shaped to fit inside the hull, whilst achieving a suitable listening range and minimising required battery consumption.
CFD turbulent kinetic energy contours.
CFD velocity contours.
CFD skin friction coefficient contours.
Exploded view of SeaBUG prototype.