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Long Endurance Marine Unmanned Surface Vehicles Project Brief

The Natural Environment Research Council and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have launched a SBRI competition, in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to assess and then develop, novel autonomous, self-deploying vehicles to gather data from the ocean over periods of several months. A wide range of sensors now exists to make the measurements, appropriate satellite navigation tools are readily available, satellite communications for command and control and for data transfer to shore are now routine and a wide range of technologies are feasible to provide the energy needed for long endurance. NERC and Dstl seek applications to first assess the viability of rugged, robust and reliable long endurance marine unmanned surface vehicles, and then to develop prototypes that would be used alongside already-funded research projects to demonstrate capability and impact. Competition criteria will consider the appropriateness of the technical approach, the degree of innovation, and how this is balanced against project risk, the technical and commercial viability as well as the appropriateness of the financial and project management arrangements. The competition will run in two phases. Phase 1 will open on 17 September 2012 for feasibility studies, with contracts to be awarded, for those selected, in mid December 2012 and completed by 31 March 2013. This call will fund at least five Phase 1 studies up to a cost including VAT of 50,000 each. After review of the outcomes of the Phase 1 studies, selected studies will be invited to move forward in Phase 2 with the design and construction of prototypes that would be capable of



undertaking demonstration missions at sea. It is expected that in the region of 800,000 will be available for selected Phase 2 projects.

SBRI is a mechanism that enables public sector bodies to connect with innovative ideas and technology businesses to provide innovative solutions to specific Public Sector challenges and needs. The Public sector is able to find innovative solutions by reaching out to companies from different sectors including small and emerging businesses. New technical solutions are created through accelerated technology development, whilst risk is reduced through a phased development programme. SBRI also provides business with a transparent competitive and a reliable source of early-stage funding. The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized business, as the contracts are of, relatively, small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focused on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation. Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting Department. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development. SBRI is championed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). For further details please visit the TSB website:

FUNDING BODIES The Natural Environment Research Council

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) delivers independent research, survey, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences, to advance knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere, and from the poles to the equator. Our mission is to gather and apply knowledge, create understanding and predict the behaviour of the natural environment and its resources, and communicate all aspects of our work. Our funding, administrative and corporate activities are run from offices in Swindon. We fund research in universities and in our six research centres. These are owned by NERC and the staff working there are NERC employees. Several more centres around the country work in partnership with NERC to carry out research as it is needed. We provide high-technology research facilities including research ships and aircraft, analytical facilities, satellite data processing, supercomputers and pools of specialist equipment. Data we gather through research are our most precious assets. We have set up a series of data centres to hold and manage NERC data. As part of its strategy for national capability, the NERC has identified the need to identify, develop and adapt new technologies for collecting environmental data. Predictive earth system models are undergoing a step change in capability, driven by both advances in computational technologies and by improved knowledge of the processes and interactions embedded in the models. However, SBRI_NERC-LEM-USV_002-Brief-V2 -2-

predictive models need real data to provide the initial conditions and to ensure the outputs of the models represent reality.

The Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is the UKs innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Dstl is the UK governments in-house defence science and technology (S&T) organisation, working with industry, academia and international partners to deploy and deliver advances in military capability, support government decision-making and insure against current and future threats and risks. Dstl provides professional in-house expertise and leads the defence and security S&T community to develop and employ the capabilities needed to implement the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The mission of Dstl is to maximise the impact of science and technology for the defence and security of the UK. This includes research, advice, consultancy, technical and systems risk management and related activities as well as social science, mathematics and engineering. As part of its work to deliver advances in military capability within the maritime environment, Dstl has identified unmanned surface vehicles and other unmanned platforms as having the potential to support the delivery of a range of military capabilities. In several areas the speed, endurance and persistence of current autonomous systems limits the scope of tasks that could be provided by future unmanned platforms, hence our interest in new concepts for long endurance unmanned surface vehicles.


Perhaps curiously, much of the effort to date in unmanned or autonomous ocean systems has concentrated on solutions to gather data from beneath the ocean surface. For physical oceanographers and operational agencies, since 2000, the international Argo global array of subsurface drifting floats provides primarily temperature and salinity profiles to 2000 m depth from each of 3000 floats every 10 days or so. Fixed surface buoys have their place, but maintaining moorings is a time-consuming and expensive task. Free drifting surface buoys are relatively inexpensive, but their paths cannot be directed. These are tremendous data gathering resources, but by no means sufficient for collecting the diverse data sets needed today. Hence, there have been substantial research and development programmes by NERC and Dstl over the last two decades on unmanned and autonomous marine systems. At NERCs National Oceanography Centre the Autosub programme of autonomous underwater vehicle technology development and science applications has delivered a word-class research capability for deep-diving vehicles. Commercial underwater gliders provide data gathering over SBRI_NERC-LEM-USV_002-Brief-V2 -3-

several months in the upper 1000 m of the ocean, but travel slowly, at less than 1 kt, and are severely limited in their energy expenditure. In contrast, much of the development activity for marine unmanned surface vehicles has focussed on fast craft, led by the defence and security sector, including Dstl, with minimal take-up by the marine scientific research community. By their design, most existing marine unmanned surface vehicles have restricted endurance and would not be able to deliver missions of several months duration. New and novel approaches to providing long endurance marine unmanned surface vehicles are sought. We encourage fresh lines of thought, ideas that bring technologies to bear from outside the marine sector, and ideas that exploit energy from the environment. For the purpose of Phase 1 the indicative endurance is to be 3 months. In order to keep construction and logistics costs reasonable, an indicative vehicle size for this study is for a vehicle that could be carried by two people or launched from a small dingy trailer. The concept is for a vehicle to be able to transit out from a shore base to an operating site offshore, maintain a persistent presence, either maintaining position, or to undertake transects, before finishing with a transit back to shore for recovery. Recognising the critical importance of providing sufficient energy for propulsion, solutions that obtain energy from the environment are particularly welcome. Low carbon and low emission solutions are also encouraged, but there is no exclusion of any technological solution that could deliver cost-effective vehicles. Hybrid solutions utilising combinations of two or more technologies may well be appropriate. Although much of the mission may be spent operating at slower speeds, we are interested in an ability to provide a higher speed capability in order to operate in areas of high current and to allow occasional rapid transits (1012 kt) over extended ranges (up to 100 Nautical Miles) to allow movement to new areas of interest. Applicants should show that their vehicle concept would be capable of carrying instruments to measure ocean surface and lower atmosphere parameters. Ideas for how the vehicle could be used as a two-way communications gateway, enabling satellite communications to be carried forward to sub-surface instruments using acoustic communications, are also sought. Because of interest in measurements within the atmospheric boundary layer, design limitations on mast height should be explained. Because of the advantages of navigational control, positional accuracy, and continuous telepresence there is interest in using these surface vehicles for sub-surface data gathering. Applicants should explore how their vehicle could tow or deploy profiling or undulating instruments for a wide range of oceanographic parameters (e.g. as would be gathered by an undersea glider). The vehicle should be capable of supplying at least 10-50W for measurement instruments, ideally 100 to 200W. How the applicants intend to provide the vehicle with appropriate command and control capability should be described. Given that the vehicle will need to operate outside of shore-based cellular phone systems, how robust two-way communication is to be implemented should be described. What measures may be needed to ensure safe navigation should be set out, and their energy cost considered. Applicants should state how scalable their proposal would be. For example, can greater endurance or instrument power be provided, without radical redesign, though increase in size and weight?



The competition is open to any eligible organisation. We are strongly encouraging applications from organisations that can exploit the resulting concepts and designs by taking new products to market. Collaboration is encouraged to avoid re-invention; the emphasis should be on innovation and rapid demonstration of new capability. Consequently, Phase 1 should include tangible results of experiments or trials, and should not be just a desk study. The deliverables for Phase 1 will comprise of experiments or trials and a commercial in confidence report using a template to be provided, which will include a statement on what work would be needed for a Phase 2 for the project to deliver a prototype sea-going vehicle.

Interested companies can find full details of the application process at Bids should be made using the Application Form, which can also be accessed from . Queries can be sent to .

Phase 1 (design/feasibility study) Competition Launch Deadline for applications Assessment Applicants notified of decision Phase 1 Contracts awarded Phase 1 Contracts to end 17 September 2012 Noon on 5 November 2012 19 November 2012 23 November 2012 mid December 2012 31 March 2013

Phase 2 is expected to commence in May 2013 after review of the Phase 1 reports.