Underwater drones join the burgeoning business of exploration cruising
Norway-based Hurtigruten is a leader in the niche exploration cruise market, in part for its capacity to entertain travelers in fresh new ways such as virtual parachute descents and indoor snow, among many others. Now the company which sails to some of the most remote Arctic and Antarctica destinations is set to roll out another offering: underwater drones capable of exploring cold water locales.
Through a partnership with Blueye Robotics, Hurtigruten will offer underwater vehicles for use on board two of its new hybrid-powered cruise ships, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen. The vessels are being built the Kleven Yard in Norway for delivery in 2018 and 2019.
According to Hurtigruten, the collaboration with Blueye Robotics aims to make the mysterious realm of these intriguing waters accessible to guests on board. Blueye’s Pioneer drones will share video and images of each guest’s underwater adventure, as Blueye and Hurtigruten implore travelers to take exploring into their own hands, with all relevant content being stored and made available to scientists.
Earlier this year, representatives from Blueye Robotics set out aboard Hurtigruten expedition ship MS Fram for a test run along the coast of Norway. During the voyage, the Blueye team and Hurtigruten crew members were able to explore seldom seen underwater scenery at locations such as Vega, Træna and Stamsund, and as far north as Tromsø. The captain of the ship even joined the Blueye team as they used the Pioneer to inspect the vessel’s hull. The Blueye Pioneer will be available for purchase from 2018, with pricing starting at $3,550.
Hull design: Hydrodynamic and hydrobalanced hull for stability and performance in ocean conditions. Engineering plastic and rubber protections that withstand impact
Pressure rating: 150 m
Weight: Less than 8 kg
Speed: At least 2 m/s (4 knots)
Run-time: At least 2 hrs normal operation
Thrusters: 4 x 350 W; plus 2 rear, 1 vertical center, 1 lateral
Automation: Auto heading, auto depth
Camera: Full HD 1080p/30fps, wide angle lens
Search Light: Powerful LED below camera, with fittings for extra lights as payload
Sensors: Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with 3-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer; depth sensor; magnetometer; temperature (inside and outside)
Payload: Standard fittings for payload on both top and bottom side of drone
Software: Remote update of drone software
Wireless transmitter: WiFi router for wireless connection to smartphones or tablets; multiple smartphones may connect for a shared live experience
Wireless range: At least 30 m
Cable length: 75 m
Wireless drone controller for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
Blueye App for android/iOS smartphone/tablet
Quick charger for charging drone, WSU and drone controller