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48 A s the global market for oceanological data continues to grow, unmanned systems engineers are tending towards one of two approaches for conducting ocean research on a massive scale. One is to build a single large, long- endurance marine vessel – such as the Saildrone USVs (see UST 38, June/July 2021) and the Mayflower Autonomous Ship ( UST 42, February/March 2022) – and offer data collection services using a range of powerful onboard sensors. The other is to develop batches of small, low-priced, highly efficient autonomous vehicles that are sufficiently intelligent and low-maintenance that they can be used by practically any ocean research team without the need for extensive training. This latter approach is the core idea behind the Hydrus, the first UUV from Advanced Navigation. Known for its GNSS and inertial products, this Australian company has expanded its portfolio over the past several years to include high-precision USBL (ultra- short baseline) systems for underwater localisation and positioning. The battery-powered Hydrus UUV is 470 mm long and around 260 mm at its widest diameter, and can operate at depths of 3000 m; it comes with 3D mission-planning software and an open architecture for installing additional mission functionality. Sensors are carried to enable enormous quantities of data to be gathered and stored by the comparatively very small vehicle: it is notably similar in footprint to micro-AUVs such as those from ecoSUB ( UST 28, October/November 2019) and Seaber ( UST 42). CEO and co-founder of Advanced Navigation, Xavier Orr, explains his company’s motivation behind creating this UUV. “We have seen a real revolution in the UAV industry: 10-15 years ago, only real specialists could use them. Now though, they and their GCSs are simple enough and reliable enough that any user can come to grips with them, and you’re seeing them in countless industries. “We want the same thing to happen with underwater technology. Too many UUVs and USVs need specialist knowledge and training to use effectively, they’re hard Rory Jackson tracks the development of this small, easy-to-use ocean research UUV Shoal purpose April/May 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology