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Technology - the TriMARES AUV

TriMARES is a 3-body autonomous underwater vehicle, designed to provided extra payload capability, including high quality video and sonar. The physical arrangement ensures motion smoothness for improved quality in payload and positioning data.  TriMARES motion is provided by seven independent thrusters, with no control surfaces, resulting in the ability to hover in the water column, to navigate close to the bottom, or to perform close-up inspections of underwater structures.

Mechanical Structure and Propulsion

The TriMARES' mechanical arrangement follows a modular approach, with three main bodies linked by a light mechanical structure. Each body is assembled with interchangealble cilindrical sections, most of them machined in acetal copolymer.

Horizontal propulsion and direction are controlled by four independent thrusters located at the stern. Another set of thrusters, in the vertical direction, control vertical velocity and pitch angle. A single lateral thruster provides sway motion.

The thruster arrangement permits operations in very confined areas, with virtually independent horizontal, vertical, and lateral motion at velocities starting at 0 m/s.

Electrical Components

Energy is provided by rechargeable Li-Ion batteries located in the lower pod, with a total energy of 800 Wh. Depending on vehicle velocity, these batteries can last up to 10 hours, corresponding to about 40km.

The main computer is a PC-104 stack located in the upper port body, with a power supply, the CPU, a communications board and a solid-state disk. The navigation system is based on a LBL acoustic network. The vehicle software continuously fuses ranges to the acoustic beacons, together with compass heading, inertial data and thruster RPM to compute the estimated position.

Payload Sensors

TriMARES has spare cilindrical sections to accomodate payload sensores, such as video and sonars, and it is simple to include further modules if required. All end caps have spare connectors to provide energy and communications.

Larger payload sensors may also be attached to the mechanical structure.

Vehicle Operation

Before vehicle launch, two acoustic beacons are deployed in the operation area.

TriMARES missions may be programmed as an AUV using a GUI software, where all mission segments are detailed (waypoints, velocity, depth, ...). Alternatively, the operator may chose to connect the fiberoptic umbilical to steer the vehicle as an ROV, providing also a highspeed link for realtime data transmission.


Vehicle Status

Feb'11 - Vehicle fully assembled.

Jan'11 - Computational system completed.

Dec'10 - Validation of energy management module (lower pod).

Sep'10 - First mechanical parts delivered.

Aug'10 - Contract signed, with AUV requirements.


Overview of MARES AUV


Vehicle specs:


1.3 m

Overall Width

80 cm

Overall Height 50 cm

Weight in Air

70 kg

Depth Rating

100 m

Horizontal Velocity

0-2 m/s, variable


about 10 hrs / 40 km




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