There’s more to a global network than satellite links, and yet sat-linked remote operations experts can heap huge scientific and technological gains on the world. That’s what’s happening in the background — a smallish network of the best scientists from around the world are orchestrating the communications and robotics that’ll yield groundbreaking achievement in the networked use of autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs.
If you contact Professor Kanna Rajan, as we did, he’ll tell you he’s not the world’s foremost “drone” researcher, yet he’s programmed at least two Mars missions and advises a transatlantic network of scientists on the use of AUVs and satellites. Prof. Rajan suggests AUV-network control guru, Professor João Tasso De Figueiredo Borges De Sousa of the University of Porto, is the go-to guy if you’re contemplating what’s possible in the world of AUVs. Dr. Rajan is affiliated with Porto in Portugal, and he’s quoted at length (about 50 times) in a vision statement written by the Norwegian university NTNU on their planned use of small satellites, or SmallSats, to control AUVs. NTNU post-docs, Ph.Ds and masters students are nearing their SmallSat launch day, after which North Sea AUVs will have taken a step toward being able to relay data to scientists onshore for long periods. Both SmallSats and AUVs will have hyperspectral cameras able to detect chemicals, metals, plankton or do survey work.