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New underwater robot to keep watchful eye on the sea

New underwater robot to keep watchful eye on the sea

b_high_res: shows cross-section of nupiri muka being deployed into the water.

Receiving funding through the ARC Special Research Initiative for Antarctic Gateway Partnership, an innovative new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of diving up to 5000 metres, operating underneath the ice and gathering data on Antarctic research missions, has been unveiled at the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College (AMC).

The $5 million polar vehicle has been granted the name Nupiri muka, which means 'Eye of the Sea' in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines. Nupiri muka is funded by the Australian Government through the Antarctic Gateway Partnership—a $24 million Special Research Initiative of the ARC that aims to provide new insights into the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the global climate system, and the AMC also contributed $3 million to the cost of the vehicle.

The vehicle will be maintained and operated by a team of specialist research and technical staff at AMC’s Autonomous Maritime Systems Laboratory, a new engineering research facility. The AUV is a vital research tool that will be deployed in the Antarctic by Australian and international researchers, including from the ARC Antarctic Gateway partners; the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

“This is an ambitious project that has built a world-leading, polar underwater vehicle equipped with new combinations of technologies to answer high priority science questions,” Antarctic Gateway Partnership Director, Professor Richard Coleman said. “The development process has built strong technical collaboration between AMC and the AUV manufacturer, International Submarine Engineering (ISE) of Canada. Proven concepts of underwater vehicle design and instrumentation were used, together with innovation in the integration of the operating systems and instrumentation.”

AMC’s strong background in maritime engineering, naval architecture and maritime training makes it ideally suited for such innovative vehicle development. This is bolstered through strong partnership with the University's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), AAD and CSIRO in marine and Antarctic science.

Media issued by the University of Tasmania.

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