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• What are the proposed technology innovations and its intended impact? – We intend to demonstrate, for the first time, a fully autonomous diesel-electric submarine “core” that could be scaled, e.g., to the size of WWII submarines. For example, a 100 m long version of ATOEM might have a displacement of 2,000 tons and a range of 20,000 nmi operating autonomously for 3 months between refuelings while hosting dozens of smaller AUVs of various sizes and configurations.
• How will ATOEM make unique contributions to oceanographic technology R&D? ATOEM represents a potentially transformative oceanographic research platform that unlocks the full potential of autonomous scientific discovery in the oceans at a scale, cost and comprehensiveness that cannot be achieved by any other means.
• What research applications will benefit from the successful development of ATOEM? Essentially any oceanographic research question could be addressed by an appropriately configured ATOEM platform. ATOEM will have unmatched range and duration with the ability to obtain measurements and physical samples of almost any type.
• Why have you chosen this particular technical approach? ATOEM combines the best of modern autonomous systems technology concepts with the rich history of diesel-electric submarine design and development.
• What key existing technologies is ATOEM building upon? Modification of an existing, commercial mini-sub design minimizes cost and technical risk and allows incremental advances in navigation and science autonomy building off of proven software.
• Why not use an autonomous surface vessel as the "mother ship", rather than a submarine? Any surface platform will be vulnerable to sea state, while a submarine will be largely immune and provide a far more stable platform to facilitate autonomous docking with its fleet of smaller AUVs.
• Why not just use more batteries? What's the need for the diesel generator? On a volume basis, diesel fuel has an energy density that is more than ten times that of batteries. Every liter of fuel will therefore allow a one liter battery to be recharged more than ten times.Lithium ion batteries are also 100x more expensive per liter than diesel fuel.
• Doesn't a diesel-electric submarine require a large crew to operate? While this has historically been the case for large military submarines, there are now many smaller subs that can be operated by only a few people. Our initial challenge is to demonstrate that we can make a diesel-electric sub fully autonomous.
• What is the plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the ATOEM prototype? – We intend to conduct both manned and unmanned sea trials while expanding the capabilites of the platform with additional sensors and samplers operating under the control of ever more powerful mission control software.
• What are the tentative ATOEM schedule, milestones, and deliverables? Design completed: 5 months; Construction completed: 12 months; Initial manned testing completed: 14 months; Fully autonomous sea trials: 16 months; Expanded sensor, navigation and science autonomy capability: 20 months.
• What are the funding requirements? Design: $100,000, Construction: $200,000, Trials: $100,000; Expanded sensor, navigation and science autonomy: $250,000. Overhead (@ 15%): $97,500.
ATOEM - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Sequestering CO2 in the deep ocean...