Stirling Dynamics details latest submarine autopilot system at UDT 2017
“There are three key aspects to this autopilot that distinguish it from other systems available on the market,” says Mr Vaughan. “The number of movements under one control, the precision of its algorithms, and the use of active haptic controls in a ‘fly-by-wire’ system.“
The autopilot is the first generation of such systems designed to integrate all aspects of the hover, trim, ballasting, and steering & diving control systems into one single control system utilising an active control. Moreover, within the control system, Stirling Dynamics has developed an algorithm that takes into account the model of the submarine on which it is being used so that the room for error in the calculations for control of submarine movements is minimised. Finally, the active control allows the helmsman to feel the operating envelope of the submarine at any given moment. “Say your submarine is located somewhere in the ocean’s depths where there is very little room for manoeuvre,” continues Mr Vaughan, “the control can be programmed to limit the movements of the gear according to the safe operating envelope of the submarine.“
Limitation on the movements can be either programmed on the basis of scenarios determined by a customer or according to the information received from the platform’s sensors.
While the algorithms are well developed already, the autopilot system is currently at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4-5. “The system is ready to be exploited on a live platform, then we will work with the end-user to develop the specific case scenarios in which the autopilot is programmed to limit movements,” concludes Mr Vaughan