V-Fides, underwater drone
Developed by Finmeccanica – WASS and equipped with sonar, acoustic, optical, chemical and magnetic sensors, V-Fides, is an innovative underwater vehicle that can be employed both in civilian and surveillance missions. Due to its high level of endurance granted by its rechargeable Lithium-Polymer modular battery, it can operate both remote controlled (10 km reusable optic wire guidance) as well as an autonomous vehicle.
V- Fides is a Multipurpose platform, designed to lead different kind of long-term missions, performed both in shallow and in deep waters . V-Fides can also perform environmental monitoring through real-time analysis, mapping and control on marine life’s forms (providing among others services such as the acoustic characterization of all forms of cetaceans species as well as coral visual analysis, posidonia mapping, etc.), on the top of physical and chemical polluting identification, archaeological research, maintenance of submerged manufacts, testing and monitoring of pipelines and cables on the sea floor, as well as monitoring and maintenance of underwater structures.
V-Fides has been realized to be easily and quickly adapted to unwind different type of missions, by using both its internal sensors, and replacing or integrating new sensors.
Modular rechargeable battery allows to adapt the available energy on board depending on type and duration of the planned mission, so to maximize the system’s effectiveness and charging time. With minimum available energy it is possible to carry on a 4-6 hour mission, while maximum autonomy is of 20 hours.
The vehicle works both as a AUV (Autonomous Vehicle) and as a ROV (Remote Controlled Vehicle) remotely controlled by an external operator. It can also work as a HAUV (Hybrid Autonomous Vehicle) when the operator acts only partially on the mission.
The feasibility phase started at the end of 2011, followed by the detailed design in March 2012.
The machining of the first prototype started in November 2012, allowing to realize almost all hull’s components within the first half of 2013. The first shell was completed in July 2013. The mechanical integration activities started in September 2013, alongside the first flooding/unflooding tests carried out in the WASS pool.
The information acquired in this period allowed to modify the first prototype design and to machine a second shell closer to the final configuration within February 2014.
In the first half of 2014, the integration activities in the lab and in the pool were completed performing some dynamic tests in ROV configuration (power supplied by external cable).
At the beginning of July 2014, the first sea trial allowed to verify the platform balancing and stability in real environment and in ROV configuration.
In September – October 2014 a two weeks testing undertaken in WASS pool allowed to verify its dynamic performances in HAUV configuration (remote control via wi-fi) and to setup its control and guidance algorithms.
Finally, in November 2014 the vehicle executed the first in sea tests in HAUV configuration (surfaced), in a 150 m x 50 m area with a maximum depth of about 2.5 m.
From April 2015, the updated vehicle installs a reusable fiber optic wire guidance allowing full HAUV in pool and sea trials currently performed to a depth of maximum 8 m .
During the trials the platform was under wifi/ fiber optic wire control and guidance through the use of a 6-axis joystick, proving its remarkable stability and precision control in the performance of manoeuvres in both very shallow and narrow waters.
All integrated payloads and sensors has been tested for navigation subsystems (inertial measurement unit, pressometer, GPS, Doppler Velocity Logger), as well as communication systems (radio, wi-fi, acoustic modem, fiber optic wire guidance) and other payloads (videocamera, lights, noise recorder and mercury pollution measurement sensor).
|The name “V-Fides” is a tribute to the City of Livorno, whose coat of arms contains a flag with the words “Fides"|
|V-Fides is also an acronym for “Wire-Guided Vehicle for Underwater Exploration and Identification”|