Ben Gurion University's first underwater robotic vehicle.
(photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed Israel’s first autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Named the robotic HydroCamel II, it will be commercially available for use in the military, security, and oil and gas sectors, as well as in environmental applications and marine research.
BGN Technologies Ltd., BGU’s technology-transfer company, also announced the formation of a company, BG Robotics (BGR), to commercialize the HydroCamel II, which was developed by researchers in BGU’s Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics. Tzvika Goldner was named chief executive officer of the new entity, which will be headquartered in Beersheba next to the university.
The technology will be introduced at the NexTech Conference 2017, now taking place at the nearby Advanced Technologies Park.
The AUV market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2023, increasing annually by 22% due to the growing importance of security measures worldwide and expanding offshore oil and gas production.
AUVs are being used around the world for underwater exploration, underwater cable layout and inspection, marine biology and geology sampling, archeology, and different types of military uses.
“The autonomous HydroCamel II integrates state-of-the-art technologies, including high-level maneuvering in six degrees of freedom and an ability to dive almost vertically,” said Prof. Hugo Guterman of BGU’s department of electrical and computer engineering and head of the Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics.
“Until now, these capabilities were limited to remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), which must be tethered by an umbilical cable to a host ship for its power and air source. The HydroCamel II is completely autonomous.”
The 2.4-meter-long HydroCamel II AUV combines full autonomy and maneuverability while enabling quick integration of specialized payloads such as sonars, cameras, sensors, and a specimen collection arm. BGR has begun cooperation with payload manufacturers to supply customers with an integrated solution.
“BGR will be offering HydroCamel II at a competitive price compared to other underwater vehicles in the same category,” said Goldner. “This gives us a distinct advantage in the market. We believe HydroCamel II will expand the AUV customer base and enable us to deploy AUVs in new areas.”