A new German technology is being promoted as the next generation in autonomous underwater vehicles. The Large Modifiable Underwater Mothership (MUM) is a modular, unmanned underwater vehicle capable of being customized cost-efficiently for a variety of missions. Individual base modules can be freely combined with specific mission modules to form large systems, enabling even unusual and highly specialized tasks to be performed quickly and easily.
Possible activities range from payload transportation and operations to research missions and stationary deep sea tasks, making it potentially useful for various stages of deep sea mining from scientific monitoring to extractive activities.
The floating, wireless underwater vehicle will be equipped with an emissions-free, air-independent fuel cell propulsion system. The goal of the engineers is to develop a vehicle with diving depths of up to 5,000m that can continuously operate for several weeks. With a payload capacity of several tonnes, MUM will be capable of handling even heavy-duty tasks. The individual modules can be reused, permitting a significant reduction in costs compared with conventional vehicle concepts and much quicker development cycles. Newly developed mission modules are also easy to integrate.
The technology is being led by a team of engineers from ThyssenKrupp, Berlin Technical University, the University of Rostock, ATLAS ELEKTRONIK and EvoLogics. The team has secured funding for development from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy over three years.