New underwater drone lab set to boost northeast's capabilities

23 October 2019

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A new laboratory based at Newcastle University, focused on the design and build of drones capable of exploring and working in our oceans, is helping to strengthen the north east's expertise in underwater engineering.

The facility, supported by Sonardyne International, creates a focal point for cross-disciplinary, collaborative work on marine robotics at the university. 

The Sonardyne Robotics and Autonomous Systems Student Laboratory contains new equipment and components for building underwater drones, from vehicle parts, laptops and control stations, to a new rapid prototype printer, all backed by Sonardyne.

The space is already being used by undergraduate students, with the supervision of academic members of staff, to take their design ideas for subsea robotics and marine autonomous systems (MAS) off the drawing board and into reality. This includes designing and printing their own custom robotic parts to build remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and, soon, also autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).

The university's Engineering Projects Society has been active in subsea robotics projects over the last three years. Most recently, its competitive arm, the NUROVers team, (pictured above) made it through to the finals of the Marine Advanced Technology Education competition in Tennessee, USA, winning the 'Guts and Glory' award. One of the Engineering Projects Society's next goals is building an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).

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Sonardyne has a long tradition in supporting engineering education in the UK.

"As a company, we passionately believe in supporting education in engineering here in the UK," said Managing Director John Ramsden. "Newcastle University is one of the only universities in the country focusing on underwater robotic and MAS and it's a focus that closely aligns with where we see the future of offshore and marine operations. Supporting the students in these areas, in a region with a strong a heritage in subsea engineering, will support growth in these expertise, both in Newcastle and more broadly across the UK in coming years."

Engineering Projects Society President Edward Land said "To be involved with engineering Project Society working on the ROV has allowed myself and others to not only apply what we have learnt in the classroom to a real life situation, but also to learn about different aspects of engineering in order to work together in a cohesive team of multiple disciplines. Sonardyne's sponsorship will be beneficial as it will allow us to be more adventurous and experimental with our solutions without having to worry about funds."

Sonardyne International Ltd
Ocean House
Blackbushe Business Park
Hants GU46 6GD
T: +44 1252 872288
F: +44 1252 876100

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