New MULTIPLUTO vehicle
A remote operated vehicle, newest design of the PLUTO family, has been completed and delivered to a science customer. IDROBOTICA, leader in the military mine countermeasures systems, is introducing the new MULTIPLUTO, a second generation ROV intended for very deep (4000m) operations in civilian areas such as scientific research, quick mobilization industrial, spot surveys and monitoring.
MULTIPLUTO is offering unusual, unique, non-conventional challenging capabilities worth of being scrutinized by potential users.
MULTIPLUTO is a standalone vehicle, but when fitted with simple adds-on it can be turned into a buddy vehicle (named PLUTOGABBIA) to another similar vehicle allowing for the spectacular unusual purpose of diving with an ROV that once at depth (2000m or 4000m) splits in two independent vehicles.
MULTIPLUTO is entirely built out of carbon fiber composites. The body takes the shape of six cylinder-bottle 12cm diameter 70cm long, side by side in two lines of three, forming a group oriented horizontally. The head is small, about 16cm diameter, can be easily opened by means of 4 clips, this head carries own light and the sonar transducer in the optical axis of the latest remote operable still camera 20megapixel / simultaneous full HD video recorder. The entire assembly is controllable in pan, tilt and elevation.
The incorporated batteries provide the energy capable of powering for an average 8 hrs ROV operations or a total of 30.000 lumen for 3 hours. The entire vehicle mass accounts for only 55kg and depth rating is 4000m. The newly developed body and the head structure mark a leaping evolutionary step when compared to the previous prototype PLUTO PALLA, thus accounting for the following main advantages:
- Lower mass, twice the batteries
- More flexible smaller head, easy to access the camera, totally seamen-proof
- Modular construction: translating into easier maintenance and facilitating additions, expansions, upgrades.
The new head can look all around the vehicle and can both take macro views at the smallest life nearly touching the seabed when the vehicle stands on the bottom, or elevating by a pantograph mechanism up to 70cm high to take wider views 360 degrees all around, not moving the vehicle. This is the way MULTIPLUTO took shape, resulting into highest performance and limited cost, yet being a super compact package of top technology.
Introduction to PLUTOGABBIA
Six seasons of extensive tests and nearly one thousand hours of intense deep underwater operations have proved PLUTOPALLA to be a very satisfactory vehicle in performance and reliability. Having located the wreck of the Italian battleship ROMA and having thoroughly inspected and identified all the scattered debris at the bottom of a rocky canyon 1300m deep was a significant rewarding success. The Italian Navy and other wreck hunters have been unsuccessfully searching for this important WWII wreck for decades.
Many other achievements like the finding and documenting of 24 ancient roman wrecks and 15 modern wrecks at depths between 300m and 1300m
(Among them the SS TRANSYLVANIA English troop transport torpedoed in 1917, the English submarine HMS SARACEN and her victim the Italian troop transport CRISPI) as well as the participation in archaeological surveying and amphorae recovery, have further proven the excellent capabilities of this vehicle concept which is based on a limited support on surface, not requiring fixed installation neither wide deck space, nor power source.
However while inspecting the ROMA wreck and amphorae fields, Guido Gay, the designer, would have appreciated a light source distant from the camera in order to avoid the backscattering effect of plankton, as well as allowing the view of broader areas. For broadcasting footage Guido also desired some riverse shots showing the PLUTOPALLA close to the target, as viewed from another camera. That is what sparked the idea of having two vehicles on scene at the same time.
PLUTOGABBIA is a MULTIPLUTO with an added docking frame to hold PLUTOPALLA (or another MULTIPLUTO) and with an added reel of tether cable so that the communication comes from the surface along our standard 3.5mm single fiber optic cable to PLUTOGABBIA then part of the communications is diverted to PLUTOPALLA via the tether cable.
BUDDY VEHICLE Concept (PLUTOGABBIA)
Today many vehicles for deep operation are equipped with a TMS Tether Management System that sometimes takes the shape of a cage (gabbia) heavily ballasted capable of keeping the cable tight vertically down under the ship.
PLUTOGABBIA takes a little bit of that concept but extending it beyond imagination.
PLUTOGABBIA is not only a TMS and a docking station for PLUTOPALLA, but it also features full ROV capabilities. Meaning that both vehicles are firmly connected to each other to form a single body that is deployed from the ship by means of a single cable as is the case when launching one ROV only, but, once at the bottom PLUTOPALLA swims away linked to PLUTOGABBIA via the tether cable. On board the ship there are two control consoles, one per vehicle, manned by two pilots. Only one automatic winch is managing the single umbilical cable connecting the ship to GABBIA, then extending to PALLA for the complete independent control of both vehicles. This new diving gear allows for unbelievable operational flexibility.
Just to mention:
- one vehicle can watch the back of the other one for cable entanglement
- each vehicle can assist in disengaging cable entanglements of the other
- photographing and video recording of each other
- GABBIA standing high and illuminating the scene with its powerful lights
- GABBIA can stay over a reference point and PALLA can make accurate sonar distance and bearings measurements of other points of interest
- two hand manipulations
- accurate photogrammetry or 3D scans
- ...and so on…