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WFS Completes Successful Field Trials of Wireless Communication Through Ice

14 July 2010

WFS Technologies and Kongsberg Maritime Subsea have completed successful field trials of wireless communication through ice. The trials conducted during February/March 2010 in Horten, Norway, demonstrated wireless communication from sea water, through-ice and into the air using radio frequency (RF) technology. Field trial observations matched theoretical simulations and WFS predicts it can achieve communications through meters of ice and then up to 1km in air

Wireless communications with AUVs and sensors under ice is a breakthrough that is anticipated to deliver substantial cost savings in environmental monitoring, exploration and production activities the world’s ice regions of Canada, the USA, Scandinavia, and Russia. The use of AUVs under ice will greatly increase knowledge about topography, oceanography, marine life and marine systems in arctic areas.

These trials are part of collaboration between WFS and Kongsberg Maritime, to develop a wireless system for location of and communication with the HUGIN AUV in ice conditions. The €1.8M, 2-year project will deliver the world’s first wireless, through-ice wireless location and communication system.

The through-ice radio location system will enable a surface vessel, a helicopter or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to communicate with and locate an AUV under the ice at up to 1km range, and will be a key component in removing risk of under-ice AUV operations.

Applications of the system are:
• Environmental monitoring: AUVs deploy sensors under ice and harvest data
• Oil & Gas: monitoring of pipelines and other assets to support primitive condition monitoring and intervention repairs
• Homeland Security: monitoring under ice to protect assets

The recent through-ice communications trials at Horten in Norway have shown excellent agreement between measured and simulated results. Next steps for the project are to extend the range of communication and to integrate the technology with sub-ice vehicles.