Robot developed by University of Limerick researchers helps shed light on wrecks

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

A RESEARCH team based at the University of Limerick designed and built an advanced marine robot, which was recently deployed to explore the wrecks of two boats which sank off the County Cork Coast almost 100 years ago.

A RESEARCH team based at the University of Limerick designed and built an advanced marine robot, which was recently deployed to explore the wrecks of two boats which sank off the County Cork Coast almost 100 years ago.

The Aud was scuttled by its crew while under Royal Navy escort to Cork Harbour in 1916 after it was prevented from landing guns at shore.

The German UC-42 submarine sank the following year while laying mines in the area.

The UL Marine Robotics team deployed the remotely operated Vehicle called ROV Latis from the Irish Naval vessel the LÉ Eithne to examine the wrecks.

“The ROV Latis allows us to explore in detail the wrecks which have been on the sea-bed for nearly 100 years. The ROV Latis brought back high quality imagery which has been used to build a detailed 3D model of the UC42, ” said Daniel Toal, leader of the research team.

The ROV Latis is a unique prototype, which has patented technology features, and members of the UL Marine Robotics team are currently commercialising the technology.

“This technology now includes state-of-the-art control systems, precision navigation and positioning capabilities. The operating environment in the ROV Control Cabin aboard ship gives the surface pilot and scientists an immersive reality transparent ocean view of the underwater world as if they were sitting on the submerged vehicle and the ocean was made transparent well beyond the limits of video imagery in the underwater world,” explained Dr Toal.

The archaeological aspects of the recent survey of the Cork Coast were partly funded through the Environment Fund of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Other aspects of the pioneering development have been supported by Science Foundation Ireland, the Marine Institute, Enterprise Ireland and other European Union funded projects.