The HUGIN 1000 Arctic Class AUV system addresses new challenges of the Arctic environment. With its high Area Coverage Rate (ACR), made possible by use of interferometric synthetic aperture sonar (HISAS 1030) in combination with a multibeam echo sounder (EM 2040), survey time is reduced drastically, thereby reducing the risk and cost of the entire operation. Furthermore, HUGIN 1000 Arctic Class AUV features a number of enabling technologies for under-ice mapping, such as advanced collision avoidance algorithms specifically developed for under-ice operations, radio-through-ice localization and communication systems, and a DVL-aided INS based navigation system designed for use on the North Pole without numerical issues. The HUGIN Arctic Class AUV system is configured in two ISO containers, one 20-ft and one 10-ft, both insulated for Arctic climate, and shippable by land, air and sea. This highly portable AUV system can also be delivered with solutions for L&R through a moon pool or hole in the ice.


The increase in human activity in the Arctic region has led to a need for improved knowledge about the subsea Arctic environment. In particular, requirements for bathymetric and geophysical mapping of the seafloor in ice-covered areas are increasing. These mapping requirements stem from several sources, including Minerals Management Service (MMS), academic research and national territory mapping. An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is the natural tool to employ for under-ice surveying, in both shallow and deep waters. Traditionally, AUV-based surveys have provided significant cost benefits for deep-water work, where tow-body based systems suffer from comparatively lower operational efficiency. However, for efficient mapping of large areas under ice, AUVs are the only viable solution due to the presence of the ice itself.

A range of new challenges arise when using AUVs for under-ice surveying. Apart from operating in a tougher and more remote environment, these include risk of collision with the ice, increased risk of a lost AUV, and a more challenging environment for maintaining long-range autonomous navigation accuracy. Additionally, AUV launch and recovery (L&R) operations, which represent the riskiest element of AUV operations even in open waters, will require innovative solutions to keep the risk of damage at an acceptable level.

Arctic Applications for AUV

Arctic AUV applications exist in several markets, and can be categorized into the following areas: Geophysical seabed mapping; marine research; offshore ice management; and environmental monitoring.

Geophysical seabed mapping in the Arctic is particularly applicable to UNCLOS-related activities, where several countries have requirements to map the Arctic with the intent of defining their national territories. Also, oil and gas companies have the usual pre-exploration seabed mapping requirements, which are already being met with AUVs elsewhere in the world. For ice-infested areas, a specific shallow-water AUV application is to map gouges on the seafloor made by ice keels when large ice floes drift through an area of interest. Knowledge about these ice gouges, and how they change from year to year, gives oil companies valuable information about the risk associated with, and the requirements for, burying pipelines, amongst other activities.

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