Leonardo Macelloni, scientist at the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute and a specialist in marine data processing, and Max Woolsey, engineer with the Undersea Vehicles Technology Center (UVTC) division of NIUST and an AUV systems engineer participated in a cruise to test two Autonomous Undersea Vehichles (AUV). Leonardo and Max were invited by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at Stennis Space Center, to participate in the cruise that tested the two recently upgraded NRL AUVs: Remus 6000 and Remus 2500 at the Woolsey Mound at MC118.
These AUVs are some of the most advanced platforms from which to remotely investigate the seafloor; in fact they can "fly" very close to the seafloor and acquire high definition images in areas where traditional ship-mounted or deep-towed sensors provide only very poor results.
Both the Remus submarines are torpedo shape AUV; equipped with high accurate Inertial Navigation System (INS), high sensitive cameras. Remus 6000 is an ultra high depth submarine, able to survey up to 6000m using a dual frequency Side Scan Sonar (300 and 600 kHz) manufactured by Edgetech. Remus 2500 is a full depth vehicle rated for 2500m. It uses an Edgetech SSS as well (850 and 230 kHz), and also deploys a NRL manufactured Chirp-sub-bottom profiler.
Woolsey Mound, at MC118, was selected as one of the sites where the Navy could adequately test the capabilities of both AUVs. Located in about 900m water depth, the Woolsey Mound at MC118 had already been surveyed multiple times by different AUVs, so baseline data to evaluate Remus’ performances already existed.
The Gulf of Mexico cruise is ongoing. So far, the NRL AUVs have completed more than 5 dives to Woolsey Mound. Multiple frequency Side Scan Sonar data, Video Mosaic and Chirp Sub-bottom Profiler data have been acquired. Processing and evaluation of the data will start when the at-sea tests are completed.