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Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Autonomous underwater vehicles are used to gather and record undersea conditions such as temperature, salinity and currents. The University of Washington’s Sea Glider, which resembles a torpedo with wings, cruises underwater and rises to the surface at pre-programmed intervals to transmit the recorded data and accept new instructions through the NAL Research’s Iridium modem. The gliders can remain operational for up to seven months on primary battery power.

Data Communication System

NAL Research’s A3LA-DAC satellite trackers are used by the U.S. Coast Guard allowing ships to communicate in real-time with command centers. The A3LA-DAC’s firmware was modified to accept the KIV7 encryption module. The same tracker is used by the U.S. Navy to relay encrypted data from tethered buoys.

Deep Ocean Assessment

The U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Data Center is deploying a new system of ocean buoys that detects and monitors tsunami waves in the open ocean using Iridium satellite data links. This new, second-generation Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART II) system consists of pressure-sensitive tsunameters on the seafloor, and buoys on the ocean surface. The buoys are equipped with an acoustic modem that receives data from the tsunameter sensors and a ruggedized NAL Research’s A3LA data modem to transmit the pressure measurements. Using this data, scientists can issue timely warnings to areas that may be affected.

Sonobuoy Transmitter

NAL Research is currently developing a beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) sonobuoy communicator for the U.S. Navy using the A3LA and 9601 series. The project includes the re-design of the existing Iridium modem to fit inside the housing of a standard A-size sonobuoy. The Iridium modem will be used to relay data in real-time to a host of platforms including an over-flight aircraft, a BLOS command and control center, nearby ships and underwater vehicles.

Whale Collision Avoidance 

Ship strikes are the top human-related cause of death for whales. Researchers are developing underwater microphones attached to buoys to listen for whales. Buoys are placed in the shipping lane that runs to Boston through Stellwagen Bank, an underwater plateau at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. Each can detect a whale within a five-mile radius. Computers on the buoys separate the whale calls from other ocean noise, collect that data and periodically transmit the whales’ whereabouts using the NAL Research Iridium’s modem and re-broadcast to vessels.