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Executive Summary

The UW Applied Physics Laboratory is asking the Campus Sustainability Fund for $28,350 to purchase an electric propulsion system from PureWaterCraft and hydraulic steering controls. Funds from this grant will be used to bring a new technology into the UW Applied Physics Laboratory which we could not do without being awarded a grant or contract specifically requiring it. Optionally, a system supporting smaller hulls could be purchased for $19850 if the committee prefers.

An Applied Physics Laboratory student team, working with Engineers from UW APL and PureWaterCraft, will design a mounting and control system which will allow the motor and battery pack to move easily between a multitude of hull types such as a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and a Whaler style hull. The RHIB install will be set up for transport to remote locations for rapid deployment in fragile environments. The control systems will enable remote or autonomous control of the vessel for future research and development of autonomous systems and obstacle avoidance which will be used for future student projects.

Both hulls will be clearly marked UW APL and Electric Drive Research Vessel or some other indication of alternative energy to encourage outreach. A student run competition to design the graphics will further drive interest in the project. Photos of these boats will be included in project write ups and publications which may get broad distribution. These boats will be seen often while operating around the Seattle waterfront and Lake Washington and in reports and news stories when operating remotely.

UW APL will work with the Seattle Yacht Club to register the boat for the opening day Regatta, bring it to Curiosity Days: Climate Change (Formerly Polar Science Weekend) at the Pacific Science Center, and use it to develop a new pilot program for elementary students focused on sustainable research in and about our local waterways.

CSF funds will be used to purchase the propulsion system from PureWaterCraft along with a hydraulic steering and control system which will support Remote or Autonomous operation. UW APL will supply a hull for the project. UW APL will also fund the student time for the project and individual engineers will donate the mentoring time for the installation and system test.

Once the installation is complete, this project will allow UW APL Engineers and student interns the opportunity to evaluate an emerging technology for use in some of the most fragile marine environments in the world. APL frequently undertakes projects in the Arctic and other areas where they encourage or require researchers to “leave no trace”.

The UW APL is a leader in AUV development and use which requires many launch and recovery operations from small boats. Researchers Craig McNeil and Sarah Webster, along with APL Field Engineers and student helpers operate vehicles that navigate underwater using acoustics that are sensitive to noise in the water. The virtually silent propulsion system from PureWaterCraft will be ideal for tracking and recovering AUVs while the absence of exhaust makes life better for the students and Field Engineers in the boat at slow idle or station keeping waiting for a vehicle to surface.

The UW APL works with researchers, scientists and engineers all over the world and needs stay current to be able to continue to lead by example.

Primary Contact:
Ian Good