The MEDUSA DEEP SEA (MDS) AUV project has reached a new milestone: its pressure vessels (core components of the vehicle´s hull) were tested at 1100 m water depth last Thursday, December 29, 2016 in the Lisbon Canyon (20 nm SW of Lisbon City). This was a great and exhilarating experience for the whole MDS team: the weather was just perfect, the operations went smoothly and the result... a success!
After the dive, close inspection of the pressure vessels revealed that there was no water ingress during the whole operation; thus, the pressure vessels, sealings, and assembly procedure have all passed this first test (up to approx. 110 bar). This was our first trial with an important component of the AUV in the deep sea. A small but important milestone towards the main goal of the project - to run a mission autonomously, diving to 1000 m water depth.
The test was performed with the support of the Noruega Research Vessel (RV) owned by the partner IPMA. The MEDUSA team is thankful to Noruega R/V Captain - Mr. Oliveira Martins - and its crew for their pro-active attitude, professionalism, and superb seafaring proficiency. An instrument called "Depth Sensor", produced by SCANMAR (Norway) and owned by IPMA, was attached to one of the MEDUSA pressure vessels. This allowed measuring and transmitting acoustically to the Noruega RV the actual depth of the top pressure vessel during the tests.
“I am writing from Sarmiento de Gamboa vessel already off the coast of Lisbon to tell you that today, we made history.”
The information was visualized in real time in one of of the monitors at the RV´s bridge. As expected, it was necessary to payout more cable than the actual depth of the dive (1332 m of cable for 1123 m of water depth reached during the dive). This was an excellent way of wrapping up the activities of the MDS AUV project in 2016 and reinforcing team building! The New Year will witness the integration of all vehicle components, including those responsible for vehicle navigation and control, as well as mission programming and control, followed by further tests at sea. We look forward to the first "solo" mission of the MDS AUV underwater in 2017!