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The Jacobs University

Deep Sea Crawler The mobile deep sea real-time monitoring and research platform

Environmental conditions in the marine environment can vary greatly, both spatially and temporally. By using mobile research platforms with internet connectivity, such variability can can investigated and monitored in real-time.

In this brochure we present an overview of a new product in this market, The Deep Sea Crawler. Developed for deep sea research, this modular vehicle can be tailored by our skilled technicians to best meet your research or monitoring requirements.

The Deep Sea Crawler Specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3 Deployment Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-5 Standard Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6-7 Development of the Crawler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-9 Upgrades and Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10-11 Certified Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12-13

For more information or a quote, contact Michael Hofbauer - Head of OceanLab Engineering Jacobs University Bremen, Campus Ring 1 - 28759 Bremen - Germany Email: Telephone: +49 421 200-3506 (All images within this brocure copyright NEPTUNE Canada or Jacobs University Bremen)


Table of Contents


Deep Sea Crawler A reliable presence on the ocean floor for months at a time. Acquire data, perform experiments, survey installations, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods‌ without leaving your office. The Crawler is a fully customizable tool for deep-sea data collection. An IOV (Internet operated vehicle), the Crawler is compatible with a large range of equipment, and can be adapted to your particular needs. An overview of the technical specifications of the Crawler as a science platform are published in the journal `Methods in Oceanography`- downloadable here: Science data collected by the Crawler was used in a recent science publication on carbon transport published in `Geophysical Research Letters` - downloadable here:

The Crawler provides long-term data


Uninterrupted deployments of several months give you a permanent record of the sea-floor, be it oceanographic data, environmental monitoring, or a status check of your deep-sea installations.

Deep-sea Current Profiling Seep Detection Oceanographic Research Long Term Environmental Monitoring Long Term Industrial Monitoring

The Crawler collects hard-to-access data The surface conditions might prevent traditional deployment of equipment, but the Crawler will keep collecting data under the roughest weather.

The Crawler gives you full control Users can drive the Crawler to a new location, perform experiments or visual observations, all in real time, from anywhere in the world.


Advantages Operates at depths up to 6000 meters Performs missions up to one year in duration Controllable from anywhere in the world via Internet access Enables continuous monitoring and analysis Accommodates multiple sensors simultaneously

Dimensions and Weight

Electronic Components

Dimensions: L 1290 x H 890 x W 1060 mm Weight in air: 355 kg Weight in saltwater: 40 kg Payload: 120 kg

Two functional units are the main electronic components of the Crawler: the Track Controller and the Port Manager. Both are mounted in separate titanium pressure casings.

Frame and Buoyancy Elements

The pressure housings are secured against inner overpressure.

The frame construction of the Crawler is made of titanium corner profiles grade 5. Together with its plastic parts (POM) for the camera frame and the other connecting parts this makes the Crawler completely corrosion resistant and allows long term operations in seawater. The buoyancy elements consist of syntactical foam (glass microbubbles enclosed in epoxy resin).

Track Units The Crawler moves on two tracks driven by transport wheels running on titanium axles. Depending on the seabed of the operation area different track profiles can be supplied. The two driving units include a motor and an angular gear. Motor and gear are enclosed in a hydrostatically compensated housing.


Deployment overview

Typical Deep Sea Crawler deployment: 70 m buoyant cable connecting vehicle with internet and power supply hub

Operations: The control interface allows very precise positioning of the vehicle, cameras and sensors in areas of great seabed complexity


As an important research tool on the NEPTUNE Canada cabled ocean observatory system, the Deep Sea Crawler is used to investigate a cold-seep site at 800 m depth.

The stable tracked design allows positioning even on high gradient areas of seafloor, as pictured here.

In deployment basket below ROV


Standard components

Track controller:

Track unit:

Micro Computer (OS: Linux) Motor control (CAN bus) Network switch (100Mbit) Subconn Connectors Pressure housing (Titanium) 6000 m Clamps (Plastic)

Tracks (Plastic) Transport wheels (Plastic) Axles (Titanium) BLDC motor (600W) Angular gear Subconn Connectors Pressure compensated housing (Plastic)

Standard sensor package: Port manager: Network switch (100Mbit) Protocol converter (RS232-TCP/IP) Subconn Connectors Pressure housing (Titanium) 6000 m Clamps (Plastic)

CTD Optional: ADCP Methane Fluorometer Optical backscatter CO2 O2 pH Sonar Hydrophone

Crawler chassis: Camera mount 2 chain drive units (Kevlar) Main frame (Titanium) Float (Syntactic Foam) 6000 m


Optional equipment: Umbilical-Copper (up to 70m) Umbilical-Optic fiber (up to 1000m) Laser sizer Benthic chamber Mechanical arm for sediment profiling


Additional sensors:

Electronic Compass Ethernet Interface Converter Subconn Connectors Pressure housing (POM) 6000m

The Crawler is a universal device carrier for a wide variety of sensors. The protocol converter of the Crawler allows the adaptation of (usually) serial sensor interfaces to the TCP/IP network (Ethernet).

Mounting bracket

Front camera: Pan-tilt camera (Panasonic BB-HCM580CE Pan / Tilt IP CAM, programmable as a photo camera) Subconn Connectors Pressure housing (Polished pressure resistant glass sphere) 6000 m Mounting ring (plastic) Optional: Rear HD camera 3D scanning camera Front lights: Power LED (33W) Subconn Connectors Pressure housing (Titanium, Plexi) 6000 m Mounting bracket (plastic) Optional: Back lights

This not only allows the integration of all sensors into the network but also their manipulation.

Fully customizable system With your purchase we offer you 20 man-hours to freely customize the Crawler to your own demands. Our team of engineers and our fully equipped workshop will be at your disposal to turn the Crawler into the platform that will best meet your needs.


Why develop Deep Sea Crawlers?

Development of the Crawler

To fully understand the dynamics of a particular marine environment time series data are essential. The ongoing deployment of Lander based systems, and the repeated visits to survey stations by research vessels has produced extensive data sets from the shallows to the deep sea at particular sites. The development of satellite data transfer techniques allow such ship and Lander collected data to be available worldwide via the Internet in near real-time, though these systems are often power hungry, or for cruise data, only possible when a ship is on station.

Live data collection

The Crawler in a deployment basket, slung below the 6000 m rated ROV `ROPOS`.


For some applications, live data collection is essential or desired, even from deep sea environments. An example is the collection of seismic data for the prediction of Tsunami events. The JAMSTEC cabled system off the Japanese mainland and the NEPTUNE Canada network covering the Juan de Fuca plate off the Pacific Canadian coast are two examples of such networks capable of measuring seismic waves in real time from a number of stations on the seafloor, in some cases from stations in waters of >3km depth. Further examples would be the extant and in development deep sea Neutrino telescopes within the Mediterranean Sea. These cabled systems have been designed to supply large amounts of power and return gigabytes of data per second to a land based processing station, then to the World Wide Web, in near to real-time.

The development of an integrated European Multidisciplinary Seafloor Observatory (EMSO) is also foreseen as is the further development of the MARS network from Monterey, USA and others in Taiwan (MACHO) and China. The NEPTUNE Canada network was installed with more than 100 oceanographic instruments (including flow meters, turbidity meters, fluorometers, cameras and oxygen sensors) deployed at various nodes. The neutrino telescopes, in addition to providing basic oceanographic data from a few sensor packages, have produced a swathe of bioluminescence data from the CCD chips used primarily to capture neutrino trajectory data. Both these networks have been used to produce published scientific papers with many more in preparation or peer review. Although the real-time data delivery from these cabled systems allows scientists to monitor the oceanographic conditions at a target site whenever they wish to, they can only monitor the conditions at one or a small number of discrete locations.

Commercial applications Such platforms have been used commercially by the oil and gas industry for inspections around drilling rigs, and for inspection of cables and pipelines for a number of years. These are commonly operated from a drill site or ship rather than via the Internet. To enable scientists and engineers worldwide to investigate and monitor dynamic ecosystems and benthic environments in real-time with such sensor platforms, Jacobs University Bremen has been designing Internet connected vehicles (IOV) for almost a decade. In 2009 the university completed development of a Benthic Deep Sea Crawler (hereafter referred to as the Crawler) capable of carrying in excess of 120 kg in sensor payload. The Crawler has been used extensively on the NEPTUNE Canada network.

In some ecosystems, such as hydrothermal areas, gas hydrate seep regions or at deep sea coral sites, oceanographic, hydrodynamic, substrate and faunal assemblages can vary greatly, both temporally and spatially. To investigate such regions a mobile sensor platform would be greatly beneficial. For scientific studies, such a mobile platform, the ROVER, is in operation on the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) network, investigating carbon transport and soft bottom communities.


Upgrades and Service

Upgrades You can upgrade your Crawler’s sensor package at any time, and with minimal effort. You can take advantage of the free 20 man-hours supplied with the purchase, or ask for our service rates.

Mosaic showing a cold-seep vent site, produced from 70 images taken with the rear Panasonic camera, Sept 2012


Service Our collaborating operations engineers and technical representatives are well trained and highly professional. We provide top-notch individuals for these positions. We also offer an on demand service to login to your Deep Sea Crawler during deployments to advise your team directly on any operational or technical questions.


Certified training

Driving and Maintenence training Assemble and disassemble the Crawler Replace parts and sensor packages

Who should attend? All current and new Crawler operators and users, international customers and distributors are eligible to attend the training program. Private training sessions are also available.

Plan and execute missions Make pre- and post-mission checkups Optimize the software to fit your needs The Driving and Maintenance Training will prepare you to take full advantage of the Crawler’s potential. The course is personally taught by the Crawler’s developers, and includes both theoretical and practical instruction. The limited attendance maximizes the practical teaching, and allows for the effective transfer of the expertise.


Can be tailored to suit your requirements. Day 1 Introduction to the technical system

Day 2

Interface and connectivity training

Day 3

Live operations of the system in the field

For more information or a quote, contact Michael Hofbauer - Head of OceanLab Engineering Jacobs University Bremen, Campus Ring 1 - 28759 Bremen - Germany Email: Telephone: +49 421 200-3506



The Jacobs University

Deep Sea Crawler A modular design allows easy adaptation of the Deep Sea Crawler for a range of tasks in a range of marine ecosystems. Please contact our professional team to discuss how the Deep Sea Crawler may provide a solution for your research or monitoring requirements.

An mobile field tested platform for realtime seafloor and water column research as well as a multipurpose tool for environmental monitoring.

This robot development was supported by Oceans Network Canada and NEPTUNE Canada, the EU ESONET program, Titanium Solutions Bremen and Statoil

For more information or a quote, contact Michael Hofbauer - Head of OceanLab Engineering Jacobs University Bremen, Campus Ring 1 - 28759 Bremen - Germany Email: Telephone: +49 421 200-3506

Jacobs University Deep Sea Crawler  

This brochure introduces the new deep sea research robot, the Deep Sea Crawler.

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