Complete Sonardyne suite for Dive Technologies’ large displacement AUV

12 January 2021 – Quincy, Massachusetts, based underwater robotics innovator Dive Technologies has chosen a complete suite of Sonardyne technologies for navigation, tracking and control of its large displacement DIVE-LD autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) programme.

The DIVE-LD AUV is being developed to meet a wide range of long-endurance mission requirements, across the commercial, research and defence sectors. To support long-distance and long-duration navigation, while minimising complexity and payload space consumption, the vehicle is fitted with Sonardyne’s industry leading hybrid navigator SPRINT-Nav.

For underwater positioning and acoustic communications, the DIVE-LD is fitted with Sonardyne’s AvTrak 6 – a combined transponder, modem and emergency relocator beacon all in one. To cover all its concepts of operations (CONOPS), including tracking and communication during development and testing, Dive Technologies has also acquired Sonardyne’s most capable Ultra-Short BaseLine (USBL) system, Ranger 2, with its latest, compact Gyro USBL.

The DIVE-LD AUV, measuring 48 inches in diameter and 19 feet long and designed for operations down to 6,000 m water depth, is currently in production in the US with sea testing ongoing in New Bedford.

Founded in 2018, Dive Technologies’ rapid development program has included support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and technology partnerships with organizations including the Center for Marine Autonomy and Robotics at Virginia Tech.

A key part of the development has been to opt for high-performance, off-the-shelf systems, such as SPRINT-Nav for navigation, allowing the company to focus on building certain customized systems in-house. SPRINT-Nav, which is available across a range of performance levels, all in the same form factor, also supports Dive Technologies’ focus on mission adaptability, as does Ranger 2.

Tim Raymond, Dive Technologies’ Director of Research and Development, says that Ranger 2 offered a proven platform with a track record across a wide range of use cases, offering flexibility and scalability in functionality and complexity.

“With a new development effort underway for Dive Technologies’ DIVE-LD autonomous underwater vehicle, we had a wide range of use cases in mind and needed a single system capable of supporting the various mission sets we had in mind,” he says. “We also needed a topside system which could scale in functionality and complexity with our vehicle as we continue to add features and capabilities, from our initial testing where our needs were just tracking and emergency commands, to more advanced features such as USBL aiding and SMS transmission of vehicle and data health metrics.

“Ranger 2 is a good fit for both of these needs and it has enabled us to meet our challenging goals of simultaneous development and testing while maintaining consistent and impressive performance even in challenging operating conditions. The system has proven reliable, easy to use, and portable to support mobilisation on a variety of support vessels.”

“We’re excited to see the work that Dive Technologies is rapidly progressing through the DIVE-LD program,” says Dan Zatezalo. “The wide range of missions they’re targeting as well as their focus on highly-scalable open software and hardware architectures aligns with where we see the industry heading. Our own philosophy has been about integrating and simplifying our systems by utilizing a common platform and software architecture, while also improving performance and offering flexibility and scalability. We look forward to seeing the DIVE-LD performing.”

Ranger 2 is Sonardyne’s highest performing USBL system, capable of simultaneous long range target tracking, dynamic positioning (DP) and subsea communications. It is being supplied to Dive Technologies with Sonardyne’s new compact Gyro USBL, which combines the vessel heading, pitch and roll data that’s critical to USBL system precision, with an acoustic transceiver in a single housing, supporting system simplification and ease of mobilization.

SPRINT-Nav combines Sonardyne’s SPRINT INS sensor, Syrinx 600 kHz DVL and a high accuracy intelligent pressure sensor into a single housing, making it one of the smallest combined inertial navigation instruments on the market. SPRINT-Nav’s tight integration of raw sensor data at a low level provides unprecedented navigational performance and precision for subsea vehicles, consistently outperforming competing systems in customer trials.

Built for simple integration on medium to large AUV platforms, AvTrak 6 combines the functions of transponder, transceiver and telemetry link in one low power unit, leaving more payload space and power for other instruments. It enables AUVs to undertake simultaneous LBL ranging, USBL tracking via a surface vessel and robust telemetry for AUV to vessel and AUV-to-AUV communications.

Photo courtesy Sonardyne