New Bedford Economic Development Council
Brooke Ocean Technology USA Inc. is teaming up with Professor Louis Goodman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and VCT Inc. on a project entitled, “Automated Launch and Recovery of Small, Untethered Unmanned Underwater Vehicles from Unmanned Surface Vehicles.”
The partners received a Phase I Small Business Tech Transfer Program (STTR) contract totaling $70,000 for the work which is expected to take six months.
The STTR Program provides up to $850,000 in early-stage research and development funding directly to small companies that work cooperatively with researchers at universities and other research institutions.
Roger Race, general manager of BOT USA said, “All of us at Brooke Ocean Technology USA are excited to be partnering with UMass Dartmouth and creating a new and innovative solution to Launching and Recovering AUVs for the Navy. This will lead to new systems that will be designed and built here in New Bedford.”
Prof. Goodman said, “This is a great opportunity to bring together the unique resources of a state university with that of an international company. I am looking forward to expanding our programs with Roger in an area which takes advantage of the research capability of the university’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) Marine Turbulence Laboratory and the superb engineering of Brooke Ocean Technology.”
The U.S. Navy would like to use Unmanned Surface Vehicles of approximately 35-40 ft. for mine-hunting operations. These USVs would be capable of autonomously launching and recovering smaller vehicles. The researchers envision having the larger vehicles carry one or more small, untethered, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) measuring 9-12 inches in diameter and equipped with side-scan and forward-looking sonars.
According to Mr. Race, the UUVs would periodically return to the USV to have their batteries charged, download sonar data to the larger vehicle and upload new mission parameters. The launch and recovery system would have a connection to allow these tasks to be accomplished.
An autonomous system is needed for launch and recovery of UUVs from the larger vehicle as well as a mechanism to handle them on-board, explained Race.
“In the recovery phase, the launch and recovery system would consist of a homing device on the UUV to bring it to the proper position, a coupling mechanism between the UUV and the launch and recovery system and a mechanism to lift the smaller vehicle onto the larger one,” he said.
These operations would be reversed during the launch.
“The desired benefit of this approach is to impart a longer time-on-station to the UUV since its battery power would not need to be used to transit to the operational area and the USV would be available to recharge the UUV’s batteries,” said Race.
“Marine science and technology represent real job growth potential for New Bedford in the next 10 years,” said Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “We are fortunate to have Brooke Ocean Technology in the Quest Center and will continue to do whatever we can to support Roger and his team.”
In addition to military uses, small boat-builders and machinery automation industries could benefit from this new automated system. Possible commercial applications include use on oceanographic survey vessels, off-shore oil exploration and salvage ships.
The Department of Defense’s STTR and Small Business Innovative Research Programs annually fund $1 billion in early-stage research and development projects at small technology companies for projects that serve a DoD need and additionally have commercial applications.
Brooke Ocean Technology USA Inc. is located on Purchase Street in the Quest Center, a technology incubator whose mission is to support the development and growth of technology-focused small businesses. The Center’s “high-support” environment assists new early-stage companies with growth and job-generation potential. Housed in a refurbished industrial building, the Quest Center represents a collaboration between the city of New Bedford, New Bedford Economic Development Council and UMass Dartmouth.
December 11, 2007
New Bedford Economic Development Council