The main objective of the EURODOCKER project is to develop and demonstrate the technology necessary to accomplish the highly complex task of automatically docking an AUV to a docking station that is either lowered from a surface ship or mounted to an unmanned underwater platform on the sea-bed. The EURODOCKER Docking-Down-loading-Recharging (DDLR) system shall be suited to various AUVs that are on the market or now under successful development, to become a "standard subsystem of the AUV support spread".
The project`s structure has been clearly adapted to this aim. The two tasks, "System Engineering" and "Project Evaluation and Liaison with Operating Companies" monitor the requirements of the end-users throughout the whole duration of the project and thus assure that the basic methods and technologies developed within this project can and will be exploited by the participants. The EURODOCKER DDLR system will consist of a Mechatronic Docking Device mounted to a support platform and its counterpart onboard the AUV, the Nechanical Docking Device. At an early stage of the project AUV missions will be ship supported and the docking operations will be supervised by an operator. For this an advanced operator interface will be part of the first version of the EURODOCKER DDLR system.
At the second stage the docking task of the AUV and the EURODOCKER DDLR system shall be performed autonomously without the supervision by an operator. This requires a high-level docking management system.
Before the docking operation the AUV shall communicate with the mission management system of the docking station to request the docking. Further communication is necessary during the docking operation. Thus both the manually operated and the autonomous version of the DDLR will rely on an advanced acoustic underwater communication system. To allow the AUV to reach the correct hovering position for the docking or to follow a suitable approach trajectory a precise high resolution positioning system must be part of the docking system as well.
Finally data and energy transfer between the underwater platform and the AUV require an advanced wet mateable underwater connector.
The technology developed within this project will allow an easy exploitation of the project`s outcome and provide the means to enter the world-wide market of commercial submodules for unmanned underwater vehicles with an advanced European product
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts