Able to penetrate ocean depths beyond the range of any diver, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are used above all for underwater missions that are too dangerous for manned operations. They inspect underwater pipelines, harbor areas, and offshore wind farms as well as carrying out tasks such as marine biological investigations.
Now researchers at the Advanced System Technology (AST) branch of Fraunhofer IOSB have developed C-Watch, an ROV with an energy storage unit that can be replaced particularly quickly, removing the need for an external power supply via cable. The vehicle weighs only 45 kilograms and can dive to a depth of up to 100 meters for a maximum of four hours. C-Watch maintains contact with the control station via a fiber optic cable between 500 and 1,200 meters in length.
The underwater vehicle records razor-sharp video images in real time by means of a front camera equipped with high-performance LEDs. A wide range of different sensors are preinstalled, and the open sensor interfaces enable customers to enhance the vehicle according to their individual requirements and adapt it to perform a huge range of tasks. A C-Watch vehicle was recently delivered to China Agriculture University (CAU). China is confronted with massive environmental problems, and the main role of the 850x550x450 mm ROV will be to investigate water quality.
Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Expoitation IOSB, Advanced System Technology AST, Branch of IOSB
Am Vogelherd 50 | 98693 Ilmenau | www.iosb-ast.fraunhofer.de
Contact: Dr.-Ing. Torsten Pfützenreuter | Phone +49 3677 461-143 |
Press: Martin Käßler | Phone +49 3677 461-128 | [email protected]
An earthquake may last just a few seconds, but that is enough to reduce a town to rubble. Collapsed houses, landslides … the chaos is immense. In such a catastrophe – just as in terror attacks, industrial accidents, or tsunamis – the search for people buried in rubble and for sources of danger is the top priority. In order to save victims as quickly as possible, rescue workers put their lives on the line. But roads are often blocked, sometimes making rescue missions impossible. A solution to this problem in future is to support or replace rescuers with mobile, networked robots and sensors. In the project called SENEKA, six Fraunhofer Institutes are developing components to make this solution a reality.
For example, the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM has developed special, tennis-ball-sized sensor orbs that are able to track down gases in the wake of a chemical accident. These orbs are called “sniff nodes” because they sniff out toxic vapors. As well as measuring the gases, they also measure temperature and humidity. The values they record are transmitted via radio to neighboring sensor nodes for data exchange and then sent to the mission headquarters. Another variant of the tech-
nology will see an orb fitted with an infrared sensor guiding rescue workers to people buried under rubble by detecting their body heat. As these sniff nodes are equipped with a microphone and loudspeaker, the victims will be able to draw attention to themselves. Depending on the particular application – whether for an initial evaluation of a situation or for targeted rescue operations – mobile, flying robots scatter the autonomous sensors over the catastrophe zone or “sprinkle” them into the cavities between debris.
Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM
Heidenhofstr. 8 | 79110 Freiburg | www.ipm.fraunhofer.de
Contact: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wöllenstein | Phone +49 761 8857-134 | [email protected]
Press: Holger Kock | Phone +49 761 8857-129 | [email protected]
Efficient fiber optics for office lighting and monitors
If office lights were to radiate their light in all directions, it would dazzle the workers. This is why louver diffusers are generally used to soften the light. A new technology is making these louver diffusers superfluous while also increasing the efficiency of the lamps. The technology was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, while the basic research was carried out in the EU “FlexPAET” project.
In office lights and monitors, LED lamps beam their light from the side into an optical fiber panel that fully reflects the light, which is then effectively trapped inside the panel. The light can only escape through deliberately created imperfections – usually white dots printed on the panel. When the dots are distributed in a particular way, the panel appears to shine evenly. The new technology employs a different principle: first the IPT researchers use a hot-stamping method to make a master from metal, in other words a negative with built-in imperfections. This master serves as a stamp: it can be used either to manufacture the panels by injection molding or to imprint the pattern on foil using the roll-to-roll process. The advantage is that whereas the white dots emit light in all directions, the newly invented imperfections radiate light in a directed manner. Moreover, the new technology is also more cost-effective than the old one at high volumes: depending on the application, cost savings of up to 20 percent can be obtained.
Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT
Steinbachstraße 17 | 52074 Aachen | www.ipt.fraunhofer.de
Contact: Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Baum | Phone +49 241 8904-400 | [email protected]
Press: Susanne Krause | Phone +49 241 8904-180 | [email protected]