Under Ice with the NUI hybrid ROV
NUI is capable of operating both autonomously and, with the addition the micro-tether, as an ROV. We operated NUI in both modes during the expeditions to the Arctic in 2014 and 2016. Upgrades to the vehicle performed in preparation for fieldwork in Sept/Oct 2019 have increased its depth rating to 5000 m and enable in situ conversion between low-drag survey configuration and an expanded-workspace intervention configuration.
We discuss the design and operation of NUI’s unarmored micro-tether, the hybrid control methodology that enables operating the vehicle directly or semi-autonomously and handles forced transitions between modes in case of tether loss, the use of acoustics for communication and navigation, and the recent upgrades. We report field results and lessons-learned.