SEA THE FUTURE
autonomous underwater vehicles division
Gabri S.R.L. is an Italian company operating in Electronics, Automation, Robotics, Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. The company was founded in 2004 by Mr. Roberto Linfante, who now remains Chief Operating Officer and Director. The company operates from its headquarters in Genoa, Italy.
The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Division of Gabri S.R.L. was created in 2006 and quickly grew to become the main asset of the company. The division main focus is the SEASTICK™ series of autonomous and unmanned underwater vehicles, whose main goal is to design, produce and test novel, versatile and robust autonomous marine robots for maritime exploration, patrolling, oceanic research and surveillance of aquatic environments. All vehicles in the SEASTICK™ series are based on cutting edge, customizable and proprietary technology developed in the workshops and laboratories at Gabri S.R.L., integrated with the highest performing marine sensors on the market.
The SEASTICK™ series comprises autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) of several sizes and for a variety of applications. Our range of products covers at the moment three main designs: from the small, entry-level, low depth SEASTICK™ 100, to the flexible workhorse model SEASTICK™ 300, to the heavy weight, deep-sea sensor mobile platform SEASTICK™ 1000. Other, specialized designs such as the SEASTICK™ 100G Hybrid AUV/Glider are available or can be developed based on customers’ needs, evolving technology and emerging deployment scenarios.
At Gabri S.R.L. mechanical workshops, underwater vehicles are designed from scratch in CAD software environments. Parts and hulls are then realized with numerically controlled machines, parallel lathes, manual cutters and 3D printers. Starting from a common general design plan, we can quickly realize highly customized solutions that satisfy the customer’s requests and the needs of the operative scenario. Customization and alterations are possible at the design stage, during production and even after deployment in case unforeseen needs arise during real world usage of the vehicle.
Our electronics laboratories design, assemble and test all manual control, autopilot and sensor control systems of our AUVs. Our technician take care of the seamless integration of third party sensors or maritime instrument with our vehicles systems and the incorporation of their data streams with our hardware and software. This allows to include any advanced technology in our underwater vehicles, making them highly mobile and maneuverable unmanned sensor platforms.
Our software development team is in charge of developing all control, maneuvering and operation software for our AUVs. Our coders also make sure the vehicle is able to manage and store the data from all on-board sensors. Our SEASTICK™ Control Station software is entirely developed by our programmers and is continuously updated for better meeting the customer’s operational needs and accommodate hardware upgrades. All upgrades can be applied remotely via an Internet connection.
Vehicles in the SEASTICK™ AUV series are equipped with an artificial intelligence autopilot system. Using certified nautical maps or any other customer chosen cartographic support, the operator can program the vehicle to follow a three dimensional route defined by waypoints, which the AUV will follow while activating the on-board sensors. The autopilot can also be programmed to handle action protocols without human intervention in case interesting targets or conditions are met. These include, among others, tagging targets, taking high-res photos, emerge and transmit target positions or abort mission and return to base. This high precision navigation and control software runs on a dedicated on-board computer and is based on the data of a 10 DOF (degree of freedom) inertial navigation system (INS). The autopilot has been compiled to run on Windows CE or Linux (Ubuntu) and allows to program long-range missions for data acquisition, reconnaissance or sonar mapping. The artificial intelligence also controls data acquisition patterns, vehicle attitude and sensors logs, while also ensuring safe return of the vehicle to the base of operations or supporting vessel at the end of missions. Lastly but most importantly, the autopilot logic handles all emergencies and anomalies when the vehicle is at sea to guarantee the AUV integrity even in case of components failure, power losses or system mishandling by the operator. As an optional upgrade, every SEASTICK™ AUV can be equipped with a Doppler Velocity Logger (DVL) for high precision subsea positioning and navigation and for the measurement of underwater currents (ADCP function).
All vehicles of the SEASTICK™ AUV series are equipped with two external propulsion motors of proprietary design (Self RING Motors) allowing for a maximum operating speed of 3Km/h (~1.7knots) with high maneuverability, while limiting power consumption. The motors are mounted outside the external hull and can be oriented to aid navigation and stability. Energy transfer between the motors and the vehicle power source is based on rotating magnetic fields, with no moving parts apart from the rotating propellers and no gears. Owing to their design, our motors do not need maintenance throughout the vehicle life cycle. Cooling is automatically achieved through the water surrounding the vehicle and is not based on additional cooling system, thus saving in energy and complexity.
To accommodate mission of extreme duration the SEASTICK™ AUVs can be upgrade to operate in oceanic glider mode, with navigation, diving and rising achieved without active propulsion. This mode allows for great battery saving and an extended duration of missions. Differently from regular gliders, the SEASTICK™ AUVs maintain all their capabilities such as extremely precise positioning, route logging and emergencies handling. Leveraging their internal servo motors, the SEASTICK™ AUV can re-orient their gliding wings to optimize navigation mid-mission. Most importantly, the autopilot artificial intelligence stays active even in glider mode and controls the vehicle trajectory which is also a key difference from other, regular oceanic gliders.
The SEASTICK™ AUV communication infrastructure is based on multiple redundant systems for surface and underwater communication.
Two comms systems are available when the vehicle is on the surface. A Wi-Fi system based on the 802.11b/g/n IEEE standard allows for medium range communication (27dBm output power) at up to 150Mbps. The Wi-Fi channel can sustain a real-time connection with the vehicle for control, command and programming, as well as data download or live video/sonar streaming. Moreover, an operator can directly maneuver the vehicle (ASV mode) and access all navigational, attitude and status data in real-time. An 896Mhz radio transceiver of proprietary design (Lo-Ra system) sustains long distance (up to 4 nautical miles), half duplex communication at 500bps. This allows to issue time-critical commands, rectify mission parameters and receive status reports for the AUV.
When a SEASTICK™ AUV is submerged, communication relies on an acoustic modem which can also be upgraded to USBL positioning system. Alternatively, when the deployment scenario allows for it, the vehicle can be controlled remotely via a thin coaxial cable (ROV mode). The cable connection allows for real-time control and monitoring of all AUV functions, as well as data download from any on-board sensor.
Every vehicle in the SEASTICK™ AUV series is based on a modular design. Electronics, computers auxiliary systems and battery packs are mounted on removable and interchangeable drawers inside the main hull. A bow and a stern ending section complete the vehicle and carry additional sensors, computers and motors for rudders control. An external payload bay is available for additional sonars, ballast or any other cargo the customer might want to add the AUV. Finally a towed trailer can be added to the AUV to house sensitive instruments (e.g. a magnetic gradiometers or hydrophones) that need to be kept away from source of noise. All sections of the vehicle can be removed for maintenance, repair or upgrade. New versions of each sections can be realized to expand or improve the SEASTICK™ AUV functionality and readily mounted on any previously purchased vehicle.
The sensor array of a SEASTICK™ AUV can comprise of any maritime or aquatic system or device currently available on the market and can also include experimental or unique instruments provided by the customer. Possible choices include, but are not limited to side scan sonars, multi-beam sonars, HD optical cameras, laser scanners, forward looking sonars, altimeters, pressure sensors, CTD probes, magnetometers or gradiometers and binocular cameras. The number, weight and power requirements of the chosen sensors will determine the size, design and carrying capacity of the SEASTICK™ AUV.
Our team at Gabri S.R.L. is ready to apply its expertise to interesting new challenges and to expand the possibilities of our SEASTICK™ AUVs for robotized, autonomous systems for research, mapping and defense of the seas.