The purpose of the site visits was to quantify and evaluate the research submarines and undersea technologies in Western Europe, Russia, and Ukraine. The diversity of these regions was so great, especially when considering the needs, attitudes, and levels of technological commercialization, that it seemed unwise to review the status of unmanned systems with all entities in a single group. Therefore, this chapter has been divided into two sections: Great Britain and France, and Russia and Ukraine.
Unmanned systems include any hardware that is self-powered and operated autonomously (AUVs); self or surface powered, and operated with man-in-the-loop (ROVs); or towed through the water. Systems considered include free swimming vehicles and bottom crawler (tracked or wheeled) vehicles. Table 5.1 gives the major parameters for each system that will be considered in this chapter.
The motivating force for the development of unmanned systems must be considered. Since development of commercial systems is driven by the profit motive, system developers have a direct and immediate application to a commercial need. Scientific unmanned systems are driven to acquire knowledge of the undersea environment through the collection of data (chemical, geological, biological, and others) as a function of position and time. Therefore, in this chapter, unmanned systems have been segregated into commercial and scientific categories where possible.
Major Parameters To Be Considered
Next, the present position of this technology relative to the rest of the market place and the prevailing trends of the facilities visited are evaluated. Finally, an attempt is made to compare present position and trends to those of their U.S. counterparts.
The views presented are based on two- to three-hour visits to commercial and scientific facilities in Western Europe, Russia, and Ukraine. There are many other facilities in the region, but the findings presented should approximate the status of the prevailing technology.