Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - FREESUBNET (A European research network on key technologies for intervention autonomous underwater vehicles)

The network of fifteen partner institutions has provided research training for a total of twenty one early stage researchers and two experienced researchers. The institutions were spread across the whole of the Europe from Norway in the North to Greece in the South. The outcome of the research training is now there is a cohesive mass of capability within the European Union in the area of autonomous underwater vehicle development. During this period of time, fifteen of the early stage researchers, ESRs, were registered for a PhD during the network. One has already completed a defence of the worked submitted for the doctorate successfully and there are four others who have submitted their dissertations for examination. A further six will submit their own dissertations within the next twelve months. A total of 170 papers have been published from within the network, the majority from collaboration within the network.

The experience gained by each one of these has been manifold; each has moved for a period of time from their own country to another within the European Community and has gained not only international collaboration but a chance to understand another educational and social culture. The ability for the researchers to receive training opportunities within the host institution was used by all. The extra ability of the network was to have short term secondments from the host employing the ESR to another. This enabled team building and as such allowed the understanding of extra parts of the work of others and its application to the seconded. It was because of this arrangement, envisaged within the network that many joint publications were published. Presentational skills are not usually given as part of a first degree course and this meant that specific training and criticism was given at the regular meetings of the ESRs. This is a vital ability that we believe we have instilled into the community of ESRs.

The method used is to cause each ESR to read and to criticise the text and logic of the report of the work package. The ESRs not only produced good research within these areas but they each learned new skills in such areas as public dissemination of their work. This skill is not one that is taken lightly by any scientific team but it is one that needs to be completed in a professional manner. To this end the experienced researcher working for the principal partner produced many ways for this to propagate.

The work has not only focussed on the design of underwater robotic systems remotely operated from the sea surface so that tasks such as turning on valves on undersea oil production plant can continue, but also on the applications of monitoring fish species in real time. The work of the researchers within the Azores allowed a novel use of the networks capabilities. Those who finished their work within the network before the total completion of the work have found that their experience has helped them to find suitable and rewarding research work elsewhere within Europe.

The network engaged with a research group at IIT Khragpur, India and also with an equivalent group in the University of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On-going discussions are taking place with the Naval Engineering department of the Royal Thai Navy on the role of underwater remotely operated vehicles. The academic work of the network has allowed the young researchers the ability to work with world leading academics and engineers within the world of underwater robotics. This subject area is sparsely understood within Europe, the majority of the work is focussed in the United States of America and Japan and so a nucleus of talent has been grown within the countries of Europe that will allow the subject area to flourish and produce tangible results and vehicles of many sizes for a plethora of applications that will enhance the capabilities of the engineering companies and research institutes for years to come.

Reported by

University of Southampton
SO9 5NH Southampton
United Kingdom
See on map