UL Robot going swimmingly

Plassey House (via Wikimedia Commons)

A robot designed by researchers at the University of Limerick has explored some of Ireland’s most famous shipwrecks. The advanced ‘smart technology’ marine robot, ROV Latis, was launched off the Navy ship the LE Eithne to explore the wrecks of the Aud and WWI submarine UC42. The expedition deployed ROV Latis to take both sonar and video scans of the area. It also trialled ROV Cherokee technology alongside the ROV Latis operating system.

The ROV Latis operating system, Ocean Rings, has proven a great success, according to research leader, Dr Daniel Toal.

“This technology now includes state-of-the-art control systems, precision navigation and positioning capabilities,” he said.

“The operating environment in the ROV Control Cabin aboard ship gives the surface pilot and scientists an immersive reality transparent ocean view of the underwater world as if they were sitting on the submerged vehicle and the ocean was made transparent well beyond the limits of video imagery in the underwater world,” he added.

This is a unique prototype and the team at UL are currently examining the prospects of using the technology on the commercial market.

The team from UL were joined by Moore Marine, Dr Garret Duffy of the Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences in NUI Galway, and Dr Martin Dean of Adus Ltd, from Scotland, for the archaeological survey of the wrecks.

Famously, German ship the Aud was bringing arms to assist the rebels during the 1916 Rising. The crew scuttled the vessel themselves when cornered by British ships off Cork Harbour. German U-boat UC42 was laying mines in 1917 when it was believed to have fallen victim to an explosion, killing 27 sailors. The wreck of UC42 was discovered in November 2010 by amateur divers.

The project is partfunded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

This article appeared in Sin on April 1 2012.

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