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Dr. Ralf Bachmayer

Dr. Ralf Bachmayer

Canada Research Chair in Ocean Technology

Phone: 709-864-6793

Research Involves: Autonomous underwater vehicles and their evolving technology

Research Relevance: This research will explore underwater vehicles to safely and efficiently collect information in extreme environments to help the environment, aquaculture and offshore developments.

A snapshot of the Arctic

Dr. Bachmayer wants to give researchers betters tools to understand what is under the Arctic ice. The effects of melting icecaps on the world’s climate and dwindling natural resources are leading researchers to further explore what’s happening in the Arctic. However, because of ice cover, most areas are only accessible for a very limited time each year and only with considerable cost and effort. Ships and other vehicles, which can be challenging to deploy in extreme conditions, are then subject to weather delays and even cancelations.

Dr. Bachmayer believes that autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) offer an opportunity for unattended operations in these harsh conditions. His vision is to enable sustainable AUV operations in the Arctic for basic monitoring and sampling of the ocean floor without human interference for weeks or months at a time, providing invaluable insight into this otherwise inaccessible environment.

However, the current AUVs are not capable of such a vision. They have to be able to reliably navigate, hover, hold their position and make contact with the ocean floor. Dr. Bachmayer believes that miniaturization of sensors and improved sampling technologies together with advances in energy storage will help to solve the major constraints of AUVs. Over the next five to ten years Dr. Bachmayer will develop the capabilities to operate autonomous underwater vehicles for extended periods of time over large distances with the AUVs sampling the environment and making real-time decisions without surfacing or a need for operator input.

He wants to help Canadian researchers, institutions and industry explore areas that are of growing interest because of their economic potential, their relevance to Canada’s security and their impact on our climate. The results will be a snapshot of the state of the Arctic with global significance.