The demonstration will be targeted for a low depth costal ocean area in Portugal.
A moored surface platform will be used, which includes renewable energy sources for energy supply, namely solar panels and wind turbines. Energy storage will be ensured by rechargeable batteries.
Platform and mooring systems will be towed to the target location and deployed on site. The ballast and mooring lines will be transported along the surface and the platform will be towed to the mooring location. The mooring procedure consists on deploying the ballast and mooring lines already with the charging station attached to the mooring line. The charging station will stay approximately 10 meters below the surface, fixed to a mooring line. In this way, the surface movements will not reflect on the movements of the charging station and perturbations from surface waves can be significantly damped. This will facilitate the AUV maneuver towards the dock mechanism.
The AUV will be programmed to perform a predefined mission, and then will approach the docking station, using the developed vision based positioning system. A simple mechanical structure will be used for the AUV to become partially locked near the charging station. An underwater camera cabled to the surface will be used within the docking station so that the whole operation can be followed from the surface vessel.
The AUV to be used is MARES, a highly flexible small-scale AUV that can operate at a maximum depth of 100m and will be configured to carry the energy transfer prototype and the required logging system for the experimental evaluation. In addition to other sensor data captured by the AUV, the logging data (such as charging status, battery voltage and temperature) will be transferred from the AUV to the charging station in real-time using a short-range communication method based on Wi-Fi adapted for this environment. Additionally, an overwater Wi-Fi connection will be used for communications between the sailboat and the surface platform.