Ocean ridges where lithospheric plates are being produced, has
been fascinating geologists, biologists and engineers. While dynamic
structures in seabed are being investigated by utilizing manned
submersibles and remotely operated vehicles, the operation of these
vehicles involves a huge support system and consumes enormous amount
of money resulting in pointwise expeditions. To establish a new system
for scientific and marine engineering survey of the wide area of
seabed, an unmanned and long endurance system has been investigated
based on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). Many projects are
currently promoted to construct prototypes of vehicles which can dive
freely in a deep sea (Ura, 1989).
The University of Tokyo and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co.Ltd.
have been working jointly on a project for "Development of autonomous
underwater robots for survey of mid-ocean ridges", in short, the "R1
Project" (Ura, Tabuchi, Obara, Maeda, 1992) (Obara, Yamamoto, Ura,
Maeda and Yamato,1993).
The target of the R1 Project is to construct a long endurance
autonomous underwater free swimming vehicle called the "R1 robot". The
robot swims for one day without terminating its mission and surveys a
wide area of ridge systems including measurement of CTDO in the
vicinity of the seabed. It is anticipated to make detailed research
when abnormalities in temperature, etc., are detected(see Fig.1). The
survey of gravity field is also a suitable mission for the R1
Fig.1 R1 in mission
The schedule of the project is divided into two stages. In the first
stage of the 6-year program which started in 1990, a prototype R1
robot, whose operating depth is 400m with one day duration, has been
constructed to investigate the practical CCDE system. (see Fig.2) The
robot is anticipated to be launched by the fall of 1995.
In the following second stage of a 3-year program, a practical R1 robot which dives to the depth of 3,000m and surveys the mid-ocean ridge system, will be constructed on the basis of the technology from the first stage. The CCDE system developed through the first stage can be adopted to the vehicle of the second stage.
Last modified: Mon Jun 5 18:38:27 1995