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NIO successfully tests performance of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle -'Maya'
Maya - a small Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), developed by National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), fitted with sensors for oxygen, chlorophyll, conductivity, turbidity, temperature and depth recently performed two test missions in the Iddukki Dam in Kerala. In the first mission the vehicle was programmed to dive to different depths in a staircase pattern up to 21m, and in the second mission at 1m-depth upto 4 kilometers of continuous operation. She successfully collected data in both the missions. A significant step in developing the small AUV at the NIO, was undertaken by a team of Scientists Dr. Elgar Desa, R. Madhan, Shivanand Prabhudesai, Pramod Maurya, Gajanan Navelkar, Sanjeev Afzulpurkar, A. Mascarenhas, RG Prabhu Desai, SN Bandodkar and a group of young Project Assistants. The project is funded by The Department of Information Technology in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles [AUVs] are essentially robot platforms that can be used to collect data and imagery in the ocean, lakes, estuaries, rivers, and dams. AUVs are novel machines that can be programmed to dive and maintain control at any given depth layer in a water body, to change course, to follow seabed terrain, to avoid obstacles and when a mission is accomplished to return 'home'. A single underwater motor is used to propel Maya. Two stern planes and a single rudder control diving and heading maneuver respectively. The nose section on Maya is removable and different sensors can be fitted onto it for specific mission at sea. This AUV is designed to receive commands from shore and also send data over high-speed radio link. Underwater navigation uses the Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) and a dead reckoning algorithm that estimates position below surface. Surface navigation is based on GPS. The Maya AUV has many applications in oceanography. She can collect standard oceanographic data in confined areas; carry out shallow water bathymetry using acoustic methods; detect blooms with the help of optical radiometers; and also work as a test platform for new sensor technologies. Maya is scheduled next for test operations in the coastal waters of India.
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