A Saab Seaeye Falcon electric underwater robotic vehicle is to help support a network of oceanographic and atmospheric sensors that are part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) transforming ocean research.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the overall OOI program is managed by Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The moored, mobile autonomous, and cabled sensors provide real-time data access to address critical issues such as climate change, ecosystem variability, ocean acidification, and carbon cycling.
After deploying a third party ROV for several years it was concluded that a dedicated underwater robotic vehicle could be a significant addition to the suite of tools available to the program and provide operational flexibility, as well as scheduling and budget optimisation.
The Falcon met the general requirements for a vehicle that can operate in 450m of water, with a 1000m option, has a multi-function manipulator arm and navigation system, and can work from either a dynamic positioning, or non-dynamic positioning vessel.
The Falcon will conduct operations in support of mooring deployments and recoveries. This would include inspections of instruments and mooring systems, as well as attaching rigging or unfouling instruments to allow recovery of assets.
Falcon’s next planned deployment is on the Endurance Array for Oregon State University. The Falcon will be mobilised on the RV Elakha and will support shallow water anchor inspections and recoveries.
Systems on board the Falcon include front and rear cameras, a Kongsberg HDTV camera, Imagenex sonar, five-function manipulator and single function manipulator with rope cutter.