Skip to content

Paving the way for underwater explorations

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Nearly two-thirds of the Earth is covered in water. Yet we know more about the surface of the moon and Mars than we do of our own ocean floor. Humans have an understandable fear of water and desire to remain safe on land. The oceans are formidable places requiring sophisticated equipment. Even more dangerous is exploring uncharted areas.

Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) overcome the problems humans face remaining underwater. They are used for manual and autonomous missions which would see commands issued by a human pilot. I (supervised by Dr Ing. Brian Zammit and Dr Ing. Marc Anthony Azzopardi) have initiated the design process that will eventually see the Department of Electronic Systems (Faculty of Engineering, University of Malta) doing exactly that.

Rachel Cauchi

In order to be able to develop autonomous systems for the ROV in the near future, I started from the mathematical models that are required to predict the physical behaviour of the vehicle in a simulated underwater environment. I also conducted a series of experiments to characterise the behaviour of the underwater propulsion system in terms of generated thrust versus motor speeds, which gives an indication of the generated thrust for variable speed commands sent by the pilot. In addition, I then determined the design of the electronic hardware required to provide robust communications between the pilot and the ROV. This process helped to create a suitable system for bench-testing the developed communications link.

The most vital communication for an ROV to work properly is promptly receiving commands from the pilot to the ROV. After the commands are interpreted by the onboard processors, the ROV’s motion will be controlled by adjusting thrusters. The same physical link will be used to transfer data from the various underwater sensors back to the pilot ground-station. This data will include vehicle-related information such as attitude, speed, and orientation together with mission-related information such as live video streaming. All the data will be transferred using a single fibre-optic tether cable that provides the required high transmission bandwidths whilst reducing problems associated with copper cables, such as their increased weight.

This project is the start of the development of the University’s own ROV, which will lead to safe underwater exploration becoming reality, making yet another step forward in satisfying humanity’s desire of exploring the unknown. 


This research is being carried out as part of a B.Eng. (Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Malta.

More to explorer

Maltese Innovation Promises New Era in Accessing Space

A team of researchers and engineers from the University of Malta’s Astrionics Research Group (ASTREA) are developing their own satellite and ground station for Malta to take its place in the night sky above.

Cutting EDGE Research: the Genomes of Maltese Plants

Conservation is a 21st century hot topic. It is a top priority worldwide to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. But how can we even begin to conserve our natural environment if we don’t understand it? Ines Ventura investigates.

Impressions on Branding

Our impression of a brand shapes our experience of the product or service involved. Five students from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Digital Arts looked into this, involving their own interests in the medium.

No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.