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Autonomous, self-mooring buoy system


June 25, 2007

Close-up view of several autonomous mooring systems (without parachutes) attached to acoustic payloads that are developed for military and scientific uses.

Close-up view of several autonomous mooring systems (without parachutes) attached to acoustic payloads that are developed for military and scientific uses.

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June 26, 2007 Both military and scientific missions stand to benefit from a new rapidly-deployable and autonomous mooring buoy system developed by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Lockheed Martin. Capable of being launched from air or sea, the system can self-moor in various bottom types - including sand, mud or rock - to depths of between 30 and 650 feet and has applications ranging from submarine detection to the collection of meteorological and oceanographic measurements.

Incorporating an anchor, a combination anchor/air brake and a flotation buoy, the system enables sensors mounted on a floating buoy to be more successfully deployed after being launched from either aircraft, submarines or ships.

Previous buoy deployment and mooring technologies suffered limitations including non-conformity to Navy buoy size standards, parachute entanglements during air deployment, short operation periods and anchors that only work well in specific sea bed conditions.

The new FAU/Navy-developed module conforms to U.S. Government size standards, is capable of air deployment and autonomous self-mooring to a depth of 650 feet in various bottom types. The system can also support different types of mooring lines and operates for over three months.

"The ocean provides many challenges to military operations because of its vast and diverse environment," said Dr. Rick Driscoll, associate professor at FAU's Department of Ocean Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and an inventor of the technology. "One challenge is to rapidly deploy instruments in near-shore waters where deployment is made difficult by variable water depth, currents, tides, waves, boats and other factors. The FAU/Navy rapidly-deployable, self-mooring buoy is an excellent platform that allows users to simply turn the system on and drop it in the water. This technology will enable the military and scientists to rapidly deploy a buoy from any aircraft, surface vessel, or underwater vehicle, resulting in reduced operating costs and danger to operators."

FAU and Lockheed Martin are working with key U.S. Navy offices and government laboratories to further develop the system and to identify other potential applications.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan
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