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JaiaBots are micro-sized AUVs for aquatic data collection. Their mission is to go in places where no other AUV can – like marshes and rivers, as well as ocean depths up to 100 meters deep. The staff at Jaia Robotics LLC had prior experience with HydroComp design services, so they called on HydroComp to assist with the development of a compact propulsion system. However, after an initial design review, the project was expanded to include hull form improvements and operational mission assessment.

This project had a number of non-standard characteristics, from partial propeller immersion and shroud protection to hydrostatic position requirements for communication. It also had competing design objectives with its three distinct modes of operation – surfaced sprint, submerged UV transit, and astern water-column descending modes. A multi-mode optimized design strategy was employed for an effective compromise that met the objective of each mode’s mission and duty profile. HydroComp provided recommendations based on their experience and observations of the design, and then predicted vehicle and propulsor performance in all three modes using their hydrodynamic tools and CFD assets.

The process proceeded through focused design stages starting with an initial prototype design. “Based on the data we collected from the first run, we were able to put offsets into the rudder, increase the size of the control surfaces to the elevators, and did a second run two or three weeks later – and that was awesome,” shares Ian Estaphan Owen, co-founder. “We had better control of the vehicle and we are in the process of fine-tuning PID loops to optimize control.”

HydroComp worked to find the “sweet spot” for overall performance while considering the competing hydrodynamic objectives. They evaluated major performance hurdles early on, such as the prototype’s tendency for dynamic instability. A proposed modification to the vehicle body shape and appendages greatly improved running stability in its surface sprint mode. A variety of tools were utilized for the design, including HydroComp’s own NavCad® and PropElements® software for Vehicle-Propeller-Drive system simulation and propeller design. In-house CFD tools provided observational analysis of dynamic performance, allowing for creative solutions to be observed, evaluated, and considered for implementation.

HydroComp is pleased to work with a company that cares about the health of the planet. “Providing software and services that contribute to sustainability has been a hallmark of the HydroComp brand for decades,” notes Technical Director Donald MacPherson. “The JaiaBot project is a continuation of that work, and we are pleased to be a small contributor to their efforts and goals.”

Jaia Robotics: 

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