The Northeast Underwater Research, Technology & Education Center (NURTEC) was officially designated a University of Connecticut Service Center on July 1, 2013 to provide underwater vehicles and technology services. The primary focus of the NURTEC Service Center is the provision of its three primary underwater vehicles to support research, exploration and education projects. In addition, NURTEC can provide technical services focused on the design and fabrication of underwater vehicles, vehicle control software, vehicle sampling systems, and other technologies such as ship to shore wireless networks.
NURTEC’s Underwater Vehicles Laboratory actively develops, maintains and operates several underwater vehicles, most notably the 1000 meter K2 ROV, the 330 meter Hela ROV, and the ISIS2 towed imaging platform. The Center can also provide an Edgetech side scan sonar for seafloor mapping applications. The three primary vehicles (K2, Hela, and ISIS2) can be configured to support a wide range of imaging and sampling options, with a concomitant variable day rate cost. Please contact NURTEC’s Technical Director, Kevin Joy or Director, Ivar Babb for more information on the capabilities, availability and costs to lease each of these underwater vehicles.
The center has a long history of working with academic researchers, technicians, government agencies and industry to develop unique imaging and sampling tools that have been deployed by divers, human occupied and remotely operated vehicles. In most cases, the tools that were developed have a much broader application to the underwater research community, such as an insulated “biobox”, an eight bucket suction sampler, an 18 small sample rosette sampler, box and punch cores and water samplers. Sometimes, these tools were “one of one” designs developed to meet the very specific sampling requirements of a supported research project, such as a fine-scale submersible deployed multi-piston suction sampler for sampling microbial populations at the sediment water interface as part of an impact of ocean dumping study conducted in the 1990’s.
In addition to physical sampling tools, NURTEC has invested significant resources to capturing state of the art still and video imagery. The current suite of ROVs can include a number of multimedia needs including HD (1080i) video, high resolution still images (10 and 3 megapixels), a variety of camera perspectives (e.g., pan/tilt, down-looking, sampling perspective, and rear-view) and LED and/or HMI lighting configurations. Researchers have developed robust, quantitative image analysis approaches that allow the extraction of ecological data from images and video. These include analysis of still photos of quadrats and video frames using random dots to frame by frame counting of species for diversity and other metrics. The storage of underwater imagery in NURTEC’s video archive reflects the evolution of video technologies, from 16 mm reel to reel movies to VHS and 8 mm, to Hi-8 mm, to DVCAM to HDV and HDCAM to hard disk storage using intermediate and H.264 codecs that the Center currently uses to distribute video to customers.