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NOAA U-Boat Scanning

2G Robotics enabled the scanning of the U-576 German submarine that sunk during the Battle of the North Atlantic

Introduction

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was seeking to find effective ways to understand a newly discovered WWII battlefield, the Battle of the Atlantic. This battlefield was only recently discovered in 2014 off the coast of North Carolina. At a depth of 700 feet, the site is too deep for divers to explore. 2G Robotics’ newest and longest range underwater laser scanner, the ULS-500 PRO, was used to dynamically capture true-scale 3D models of the remains of the Battle of the Atlantic and, in particular, of the U-576 German submarine that sank during that battle.

Dynamic Scanning with Stills Capture

The ULS-500 PRO was mounted to a frame attached to a Triton 1000/2 free-moving, battery-powered submarine along with Sonardyne’s acoustically aided inertial navigation system (AAINS), SPRINT, for positioning. The submersible was then able to ‘fly’ over the U-Boat and dynamically scan the target and surrounding area. While the ULS-500 PRO captured laser data, 2G’s still imaging camera seamlessly captured images in between laser profiles, providing detailed photographs of the WWII U-Boat in addition to the 3D models generated by the laser scanner. This new SPRINT-Laser contactless scanning method removed the need for submersible handling of equipment on subsea artifacts during the dive, which notably reduced operational time.

Detailed Results

The scans generated by the ULS-500 PRO provided detailed 3D archaeological records of the site in its present day condition. The high resolution of the 3D models effectively resolves fine-scale dimensional features that more traditional survey methods fail to capture, allowing for detailed documentation of this historical site’s complexity. By generating such high-resolution data, 2G Robotics was able to provide a more in-depth understanding of the wreck for engaging and educating the public. With laser scanning becoming the future of marine archaeology and research, this type of investigation will help increase access to our maritime history by enabling everyone to virtually experience the wreck sites.

“The scans generated by the ULS-500 PRO provided detailed 3D archaeological records of the site in its present day condition.”

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