New underwater robotics lab established

(23.08.2011) With the snip of a underwater robot claw, Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry cut the ribbon for a new underwater robotics laboratory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Environmental monitoring of the ocean, marine research and the offshore oil and gas industry all demand strong technical expertise and advanced engineering solutions. In response to this demand, NTNU has newly established the Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory (AUR Lab).Trond Giske, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry remotely clips underwater ribbon.

The lab brings together experts from cybernetics, control engineering, marine biology, marine archaeology, electrical engineering and telecommunications, and underwater technology to produce new scientific results that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.

"NTNU would like to consolidate its position as a leading university where links between science and technology strengthen our ability to conduct cutting edge research and develop new innovative approaches. Building on these connections puts NTNU in a unique position to explore the ocean," said Kari Melby, Pro-Rector for Research at NTNU during the opening ceremony for the laboratory on 23 August.

An underwater snip
Trond Giske, Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, formally opened the laboratory by cutting an underwater ribbon using Minerva, one of the university's remote underwater minisubs.

"The AUR Lab will strengthen NTNU's position as a world-leading centre of expertise in subsea technology. Top-quality research and education in this field will be decisive in the ability of several of Norway's most important industries to create jobs and add value to the country's economy in the future," said Giske as he remotely cut the underwater ribbon. Also in attendance were Pro-Rector Melby and Ivar O. Grytdal, who is director of Statoil's Subsea North division, which will also be an important player in the new laboratory.

"By bringing together research groups in areas such as marine biology, underwater technology and marine archaeology, all of which are areas where NTNU has a very high level of expertise, we will produce scientific results that were previously unattainable," Melby said. "We will tackle the challenges posed by the ocean – whether in environmental monitoring, marine research or the offshore oil and gas industry -- to contribute to sustainable and environmentally robust solutions."

Important in the High Arctic
Melby noted that research at the laboratory will also play a role in Norway's and management efforts in the High North and the Arctic, and will have major societal implications, particularly related to the oil and gas industry.

The laboratory is also a step forward in the university's overall strategy to strengthen its ocean research programme and is part of a larger commitment to build an "Ocean Space Centre", planned as an integrative, comprehensive research centre on the Trondheim waterfront that would provide researchers the facilities needed to study an array of marine and maritime topics, from ship design to renewable energy production to fish farming of the future.  The University has already allocated 4.5 million to the centre, which will go to new infrastructure and the funding of several research positions and an operating engineer.

Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory

Here is a list of research areas for the AUR Lab:

-- Development of technology for guidance, navigation and control of underwater vehicles (ROVs and AUVs)
-- Environmental monitoring and mapping at sea surface, water column, and sea bed
-- Operations under ice in the arctic
-- Study of any object of interest (biogeochemical studies)
-- Inspection/surveillance for environmental agencies, oil industry, ecotoxicology
-- Evaluation of seabed properties and habitat
-- Underwater acoustic communication
-- Deepwater archaeology
-- Deepwater ecology research
-- Complex deepwater underwater operations including inspection and intervention
--Deepwater mineral extraction