NERC puts £15 million into creating new marine robots and sensors

27 April 2016

NERC will invest £15 million in Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS) and sensors over a five-year development programme.

Diagram of communications between marine robots and systems

A £10 million investment will be made through the NERC National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global marine science and technology innovation by developing a new 1500m depth-rated Autosub Long Range (ALR1500) and a new 6000m depth-rated autonomous underwater vehicle (Autosub6000 Mk2). This will support future under-ice and deep-ocean science, including a number of upcoming major marine research programmes such as the Changing Arctic Ocean programme. There will also be investment in command-and-control systems for efficient fleet management, and new equipment to support the NERC-EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in 'Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems', called NEXUSS - 'NEXt generation Unmanned System Science'.

NERC will also invest up to £5 million in an open call for novel sensor development suitable for deployment on various submarine and surface platforms including the new MAS platforms described above.

This new investment will provide unprecedented capability in ocean observing for all of the UK marine science community with persistent presence of hostile and previously inaccessible deployment of significant new capacity to tackle some fundamental 'global environmental science' questions. Further information will be announced later this year.

"This investment will help develop ambitious new technologies for researching the oceans and maintain the UK's world-class status in autonomous marine platforms," said NERC's chief executive Professor Duncan Wingham. "It will also support specialised skills and training in this exciting area, producing the skilled scientists, engineers and technologists who will carry out innovative marine science in the decades to come."

Further information

Tom Marshall
NERC media office
01793 442593