19 European partners in total have decided to join forces in order to develop the first ever European ultra-deep-sea robot glider.
The glider is going to have the capability of sampling the ocean on an autonomous basis at a 5000-meter depth level and potentially even more in the future, for a maximum of three months per operation. The project, which includes the participation of the National Oceanography Center (NOC), has been granted funding in the amount of €8M from the Horizon 2020 programme that was initiated by the European Union. The funds are to be appointed for developing and testing the innovative new technology.
This brand new glider’s capability is going to reach a minimum 75% of the ocean and will contribute for opening up new possibilities and opportunities for scientific research and industry growth. Among the potential operations that are to be made possible thanks to the glider are submarine biodiversity monitoring and eco impact assessments regarding sea bed mining and exploration.
The new glider, for example, is going to be able to detect any plumes of sediment that are created by the mining process via the use of novel sensors which have been designed by the NOC and are located at the glider’s frontal section. The plumes in question are an integral part of the submarine ecosystem.
“The sensors’ development and installation is going to be quite the challenge, factoring in the depth levels in which they are able to operate, nothing like this has ever been done before so the science approach to it is actually on the innovative side. Additionally, the range of sensors that this glider is able to carry qualify it to be deemed suitable for a vast array of applications, within the research field as well as within the industry,” commented Dr Mario Brio, NOC leader of the project.
The NOC is also going to be responsible for developing pressure tolerant structures within the glider itself, its propulsion system and putting it through sea trials. The last test is to be conducted off South East Ireland in September of 2019. NOC is going to employ advanced risk and reliability techniques in order to precisely quantify the risk levels regarding the potential failure of the glider given particular conditions.
“The glider is going to feature a design aimed at meeting a properly constrained reliability target that will contribute for guaranteeing its successful operating in the years to come,” further said Dr Brito.
The project’s funding as mentioned above was granted along the lines of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme regarding Unlocking the potential of seas and oceans. The current 4-year BRIDGES project involves a close co-op effort between NOC and 9 SME’s from the United Kingdom and Europe in general.
“The NOC is quite pleased to take this opportunity of working together with such a large number of SMEs, and to employ the top-level expertise here to contribute for helping them grow and create the first European submarine glider technology,” commented Kevin Forshaw, NOC’s Director of Enterprise and Research Impact.
“The glider technology has demonstrated to be among the ocean observing techniques that have the most promise when looking into the future. Deep gliders generally are an integral part of oceanography and greatly enhance the knowledge we have about oceans,” said Pierre Bahurel, the France-based MERCATOR OCEAN ocean forecasting centre’s General Manager.