Kongsberg Discovery Sets New AUV Milestone
HUGIN Endurance, launched in 2021, is the largest member of Kongsberg Discovery’s HUGIN family of AUVs. Measuring approximately 11 meters in length, with a diameter of 1.2 meters and weighing around 8,000 kg, it is rated to a depth of 6,000 meters and designed to facilitate independent multi-role operations spanning approximately 2,200km or 1,200 nautical miles.
Making the impossible possible
“With HUGIN Endurance we are pushing the boundaries for autonomous over-the-horizon AUV operations. There are countless possible underwater applications, including geophysical, environmental, hydrographic, naval, security, critical asset inspection and search-and-rescue operations. Although we only launched the development project in 2021, thanks to our more than 30 years of experience in AUV technology we’ve been able to develop a transformative product within a very short time. To see it in the water, responding as expected, is very exciting,” says Martin Wien Fjell, President Kongsberg Discovery.
“The name Endurance says it all. Its long-range capability represents a huge cost benefit, with no mother ship required for launching, monitoring and recharging. For customers, being able to carry out unsupervised operations far from any support infrastructure, both reduces project costs and carbon footprint while significantly increasing the weather window,” says Fjell. “And even if a support ship is available or required, it can be assigned to other productive tasks while the HUGIN Endurance is on mission.”
Unmatched payload flexibility
As standard, HUGIN Endurance comes equipped with a wide array of sensors for survey campaigns. This includes a wide-swath high-resolution synthetic aperture sonar (HISAS 1032 Dual RX), multibeam echo sounder (EM 2040 MkII), sub-bottom profiling system, color camera, laser profiler, magnetometer and environmental sensors collecting data such as conductivity, temperature, sound and speed, and environmental sensors for methane, CO2 and O2 concentration.
The first HUGIN Endurance being prepared for sea trials (Photo: Kongsberg Discovery)
“HUGIN Endurance can accommodate whatever kind of payload a customer wants, whether for seabed mapping or inspection, oceanography profiling, pre-surveys for offshore wind parks or as a surveillance tool for critical subsea infrastructure or changes in ecosystems. It offers unmatched coverage and can generate data across an area close to 1,000 square km in a single dive,” says Fjell.
The unit retains many of the proven, commercial-off-the-shelf capabilities found across Kongsberg Discovery’s entire HUGIN range. It also looks similar to previous HUGIN models but boasts new features including fins that allow stable and horizontal flight in waters of varying density and more agile bottom avoidance, as well as a unique tail design accommodating contra-rotating dual propellers.
Using KONGSBERG’s Sunstone inertial navigation system (INS) for highly accurate underwater positioning, HUGIN Endurance is designed for days to weeks of submerged autonomous operation without position update from external sources. A new autonomous mission management system allows new levels of situational awareness and decision making compared to previous designs. HUGIN Endurance can communicate acoustically with pre-deployed transponders and surface vessels when submerged and has RF and satellite connectivity when at the surface.
The HUGIN Endurance program has attracted interest both from the defense sector and commercial operators, with delivery of the first unit scheduled for early 2024. KONGSBERG is in talks with several potential customers for further deliveries.