Dynamic Environment Prediction: safe launch and recovery in high sea states: Part of The Launch and Recovery Co-Creation Initiative.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths


This project is one of the small number of proposals selected by an industrial consortium in collaboration with EPSRC to go forward as full proposals to the EPSRC Launch and Recovery Co-Creation Initiative. It involves a collaboration between Exeter and Southampton Universities, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA), BAE Systems, MOD and OCEANWAVES (Germany). It is supported by a mentoring/dissemination group comprising: BAE Systems, MOD, SEA Ltd, Zenotech and ESI Group. The practical driver is to enable a wide range of wave limited maritime operations to be carried out safely at higher sea states than is presently feasible. Particularly important examples are launch and recovery operations from mother ships of small boats, manned and unmanned air vehicles, and submersibles. The research concerns the two coupled areas of: (a) predicting the actual shape of sea waves, termed Deterministic Sea Wave Prediction and the application of this to predicting calmer periods in otherwise large seas (Quiescent Period Prediction), and (b) a comprehensive investigation of the properties of such quiescent periods and the creation of a quiescence simulator. The research involves an integrated combination of challenging fundamental new theory, simulation, large scale data analysis and experimental testing. An applications oversight, designed to facilitate post project the optimum push through to higher technology readiness levels, is provided by the industrial mentoring panel. MOD and BAE Systems are also research partners. The research will provide the predicted wave environment information required by closely allied projects within this EPSRC Launch and Recovery Co-Creation Initiative which are aimed at (a) modelling the motion of small craft in the near wave/flow field of a parent vessel and (b) control of launch and recovery operations. An alternative application of the new science is in the optimal control of wave energy converters where large increases in performance per unit cost are possible (see the impact case).

Planned Impact

Technology Push Through: The EPSRC Launch and Recovery Co-Creation Initiative is designed to create the new science that can be pushed through to generate a new generation of high added value products to upgrade the performance and prolong the service life of naval vessels. It is accepted that the number of new vessels and new vessel types being planned by the UK and other navies is modest and thus a key focus is on upgrading the performance and service life of existing craft using new technology based systems. This is one aspect of the EPSRC Formative Growth in Manufacturing thread aimed at adding new technology based value to a new generation of UK products. The Launch and Recovery Co-Creation Initiative is atypical in so far as a high profile industrial consortium, led by BAE Systems, was engaged at the outset with EPSRC and they take on the primary role of "post project to push through" to higher technology readiness levels and play a key role in influencing investment from industry, MOD and organisations such as Innovate UK (formerly TSB), leading eventually to market.
To further accelerate exploitation of new science outputs the applicants have involved a sub set of the industrial consortium (BAE Systems, SEA Ltd, ESI Group, MOD and Zenotech), as a project mentoring/dissemination group. These high profile organisations are ideally placed to disseminate the project's research findings to key decision makers in industry and government and post project they will jointly publish a high level dissemination report. This mentorship strategy has been successfully applied by the applicants in an EPSRC funded Grand Challenge project. MRB, PW and JC are permanent members of the MOD Virtual Ships Advisory Group, a technology communication body for introducing new technology in the UK Navy. MRB is an advisor to various NATO forums tasked with the same role as the Virtual Ships Advisory Group.
Stimulating Broader Research: While technology push through to market is vital it is equally important that the proposed research can act as an effective driver for further fundamental research. In the present case this driver stems directly from the key technical requirement that all computations associated with the proposed real time enhanced launch and recovery systems must be completed in a few seconds. This is scientifically enormously demanding and constitutes a large pressure for new fundamental research that will support the eventual delivery of the benefits of the proposed new science. Directly affected areas of research include: fast algorithms, adaptive intelligent software, signal processing, big data systems, remote sensors, high speed hydrodynamic computational techniques and systems/control. In addition to the standard academic impact routes, the research community, particularly in the allied scientific fields mentioned above, will be engaged through a small scale conference/workshop, with specialists in the associated research areas mentioned being individually invited. The influential industrial consortium is well placed to influence support for these areas. The Initiative has three technically dependent threads and to ensure maximum technology exchange within the initiative the applicants will operate quarterly teleconferences and science exchange workshops with other funded projects in the initiative.
Multi-Tracking the Impact: The wave predictive technology, in concert with predictive optimal control (which the applicants are also active in) is capable of delivering the requirements for achieving maximum possible power absorption from Wave Energy Converters and reducing the risk of wave damage, thus lowering installed capacity costs (work by J. Falnes). The applicants have been extensively involved in this area, including an euro 9M European Union funded full scale demonstration project, and thus are strongly placed to dual track the impact from the proposed research in the field of marine renewable energy.
Description The wave data acquired from wave RADAR sensors that is used in Deterministic Sea Wave Prediction varies in both time and space. The applicants have found a technique for decoupling the space and time aspects. Also a new computationally far cheaper prediction methods has been produced that successfull predcits field trials data.

The most recent paper "Obtaining the distribution of quiescent periods..." provides analytical proof of the new prediction technique.
Exploitation Route The findings will enable future users of Launch and Recovery technology to operate safely in higher sea states than at present.

The findings will also provide a low cost approach to lowering the cost of wave energy.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

Description An international UK/USA government to government meeting is being held in March 15/16 2017 to discuss co-operation in building sea going systems that will allow the launch and recovery of naval assets in higher sea states than possible at present. The findings from the present study (even at this early stage) are a key element in the consequential discussions. Also the EPSRC project has now been linked to a NATO collaborative program on Launch and Recovery The concept of quiescence in wave driven motion of vessels has been extended to include quiescence in air-wakes. The overal envirnmental quiescence concept has been labled by the UK Ministry of Defence as AWSM and a large program of work is being planned around AWSM.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Control of Launch and Recovery in Enhanced Sea-States
Amount £670,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P022952/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 07/2021
Description Collaboration with Scrips Institute USA 
Organisation Scripps Research Institute
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Research into determibnistic sea wave prediction
Collaborator Contribution Extracting sea wave prefiles from wave RADAR data
Impact None
Start Year 2017
Description International Launch and Recovery 
Organisation Ministry of Defence (MOD)
Department Defence Equipment and Support
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Research into deterministic sea wave prediction
Collaborator Contribution Funded extensive sea trial so collect data for deterministic sea wave prediction
Impact Funding of an EPSRC grant.