Ben-Gurion University Introduces Israel’s First Underwater Robotic Vehicle
BEER-SHEVA, Israel — Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev has developed Israel’s first autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), the university announced in an Oct. 19 release. The robotic “HydroCamel II” will be commercially available for use in the military, security, and oil and gas sectors, as well as in environmental applications and marine research.
BGN Technologies Ltd., BGU’s technology-transfer company, also announced the formation of a new company, BG Robotics (BGR), to commercialize the HydroCamel II, developed by researchers in BGU’s Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics (LAR). Tzvika Goldner was named chief executive officer of the new entity, which will be headquartered in Beer-Sheva, adjacent to the University.
The AUV market will reach $1.2 billion by 2023, increasing annually by 22 percent due to the growing importance of security measures worldwide and expanding offshore oil and gas production. AUVs are being used around the world for underwater exploration, underwater cable layout and inspection, marine biology and geology sampling, archeology, and different types of military uses.
“The autonomous HydroCamel II integrates state-of-the-art technologies, including high-level maneuvering in six degrees of freedom and an ability to dive almost vertically,” says Prof. Hugo Guterman of the BGU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and head of LAR. “Until now, these capabilities were limited to remotely operated underwater vehicles, which must be tethered by an umbilical cable to a host ship for its power and air source. The HydroCamel II is completely autonomous.”
The 8-foot-long HydroCamel II AUV combines full autonomy and maneuverability while enabling quick integration of specialized payloads such as sonars, cameras, sensors, and a specimen collection arm. BGR has begun cooperation with payload manufacturers to supply customers with an integrated solution.
“BGR will be offering HydroCamel II at a competitive price compared to other underwater vehicles in the same category,” Goldner said. “This gives us a distinct advantage in the market. We believe HydroCamel II will expand the AUV customer base and enable us to deploy AUVs in new areas.”