Bluefin Robotics, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, developed the third generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3). The two-man portable autonomous vehicle was design for ship inspection, but has potential application in mine warfare. In addition to a camera, the vehicle's DIDSON imaging sonar (produced by Sound Metrics) provides real time data to operators via a fiber-optic link.
An earlier version of the HAUV underwent testing with Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO in Norfolk, VA, and the Navy later contracted to purchase 15 two-vehicle systems for underwater hull inspections for Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams. This force protection mission is typically a slow and dangerous operation performed by divers. In March 2011, an HAUV was used to inspect the hull of the Navy's oldest commissioned warship, USS Constitution, in Boston Harbor.
General Dynamics Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Detects Threats to Ship Hulls and Structures
22 September 2016 - General Dynamics Mission Systems featured the Bluefin Robotics hovering-autonomous underwater vehicle (H-AUV) at OCEANS 2016 in Monterey, California. The Bluefin Robotics H-AUV locates, identifies and maps structural issues on a ship’s hull including large ocean going cargo ships, petroleum and chemical tankers, cruise ships and military surface and sub-surface vessels without dry-docking the ship.
“Inspecting ship hulls and other underwater surfaces can be a manpower- and cost-intensive part of a ship’s observation and maintenance,” said Matt Graziano, director of Autonomous Undersea Systems for General Dynamics Mission Systems. “This H-AUV also reduces the risk to divers when inspecting potential threats attached to a ship’s hull or other structure.”
The Bluefin Robotics H-AUV operates autonomously and navigates along a hull, bridges or piers. High-resolution images are streamed, recorded and stored by the H-AUV for shipboard or shore-based operators to observe in real time, or study once the scan is complete. The H-AUV can also conduct undersea observation for port and harbor security, underwater law enforcement investigations, archeological and academic research.
Bluefin Robotics Awarded Navy Contract for Ship Hull Inspection Vehicles
15 December 2015 —The U.S. Navy recently awarded five delivery orders to Bluefin Robotics for vehicles that will increase the Navy's capability to remotely search and investigate ship hulls, harbor sea floors, and other underwater infrastructure for limpet mines, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other objects of interest.
The delivery orders, valued at $5 million, are to be used in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System (EOD HULS) Program of Record.
The EOD HULS System (known as MK19) consists of two vehicles and associated support equipment. Bluefin’s third-generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3), used in the MK19 system, was initially developed under Office of Naval Research and transitioned to the EOD Program Office.
Bluefin’s work will include engineering support, operator training, on-board repair parts, depot spares, retrofit, addition of new capabilities, and the manufacturing of systems 6 and 7.
New capabilities include the integration of a GPS receiver and magnetic compass for geo-referenced navigation during searches; integration with the Common Operator Interface Navy EOD (COIN); addition of video enhancement; an update of SeeByte’s Automatic Target Recognition software to the ARIS imaging sonar and other new features.
After delivery of Systems 6 and 7 scheduled in spring 2016, the Navy will own 14 vehicles and a spare.
Navy Grants Safety Approval for Bluefin's Lithium Batteries
2 April 2013 - Following a series of safety tests on 1.5 kWh Subsea Batteries at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, the Navy has approved Bluefin's Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to be carried aboard naval aircraft.
Video of HAUV conducting an autonomous ship hull inspection.