Monday, June 13, 2011
Brown alumnus Glenn Donovan ScM'09 Wins Arthur S. Flemming Award
“New information is collected and calculated every 5 or 10 seconds,” said Mr. Donovan, depending on the speed of the AUV.
The navigation system developed by Mr. Donovan, called Inertial Navigation System Position Error Correction (INSPEC), will allow AUVs to stay underwater for longer periods without getting lost. He’s spent the last eight years developing the system. AUVs equipped with his INSPEC design have completed test missions, some lasting 24 hours, and everything is looking good. “We haven’t lost any so far,” he said.
“The real goal of the AUVs is they can go into areas where submarines can’t,” he said.
At 12 feet long, the AUVs tested with the INSPEC system can easily slip into shallow waters, where manned vehicles can’t go or might be easily detected because of their size. While the AUV being used in the testing is about twice the length of a man, the INSPEC navigation system is small enough to fit into the slot of a toaster and can be used on AUVs of varying sizes, simply by adjusting some calculations. The INSPEC system can be used on a variety of unmanned vehicles that have all sorts of purposes, Mr. Donovan said.
“AUVs are huge right now,” according to John H. Woodhouse Jr., a NUWC communications specialist, referring to the popularity of the unmanned concept. “Anything we do is going to have a huge interest.” Recognizing the potential impact the INSPEC system will have on AUVs, Mr. Woodhouse said the navigation tool may also have commercial and academic interest.
Mr. Donovan sees his civilian efforts as a bridge to the enlisted men and women who will benefit from his work.
“I view what I do as working for them,” he said. While INSPEC is still considered a prototype, the testing success has promise that “it is something that they can actually use,” he said.
As he continues work on the prototype design, his objective is to expand an AUV’s capability to navigate for days or weeks — work that military officials are watching closely.
Mr. Donovan received his award, along with other 2010 recipients recognized for their service in a variety of disciplines, at a ceremony on June 6 in Washington, D.C.
- by Eric Dickervitz/East Bay Newspapers