With the MUNIN, Kongsberg Maritime has made advanced bathymetric survey available at a price that is affordable to many.

  • Ove Ronny Haraldsen
    Group Communication Manager

Loch Ness, April 2016: There is a grey layer of clouds above the legendary Scottish loch. An orange, torpedo shaped underwater vehicle darts through the cold water. Metre by metre, the loch floor is being surveyed. According to local tradition, the loch conceals a deep ravine. Could this be where Nessie the Loch Monster is hiding? Now the secrets of the loch will be revealed, perhaps once and for all.  

The MUNIN is perfect for the job. It is easy to transport, is pre-calibrated and has instruments on board which draw a detailed map over the loch’s underwater topography. In fact, the MUNIN could be ready for a variety of operations anywhere in the world in a day. It can be transported by commercial flights and launched from any vessel rented locally. A flexible little brother of the much larger HUGIN, intended for greater depths and longer dives.

“The MUNIN takes the advanced technology utilised in the HUGIN and miniaturises it. Essentially this is the most advanced low logistics vehicle available which can be shipped in man portable transit cases, mobilised quickly in the field yet still achieve 90 percent of a HUGIN workload, albeit to a lesser depth capability”, says Craig Wallace who works for Kongsberg Maritime in Abedreen. 

The fact that Kongsberg Maritime in Aberdeen rents out the MUNIN has made AUV survey capabilities available for more clients than just the large oil companies. Craig Wallace is contacted by anything from treasure hunters looking for lost Spanish galleons to Scientist’s in search of Geological data, and most recently by Scottish tourism authorities looking for loch monsters. However, the surveying of projected routes for pipelines, environmental monitoring or general bathymetric survey is more common. 

“Whilst all markets are interesting, certainly anything new is exciting. This last project was for the placement of a Deep Sea Tailings Pipeline which was in extremely challenging conditions. The pipeline will be used to clear tailing from a mine on shore so the area has to be one which will move the mined material out to sea efficiently hence high currents and difficult close to shore conditions, its these challenges that keep it exciting.  In this instance the project was only viable by using low logistic and manoeuvrable AUV whilst still have the extremely high positioning accuracy which has been developed through HUGIN.”


“Is there a lot of interest for the product?”  

“Absolutely, but as always it’s difficult to comment on our customers projects, however what has been a surprise is the varied fields in which we have enquiries. We had expected lots of Oil and Gas enquiries but the interest has been very mixed across the commercial sector from general bathymetric survey in deep water to cable lay and even treasure hunting for long lost shipwrecks.”

“What has been the experience from hiring KM equipment?” 

“This has been one of the biggest stepping stones of the vehicle. So many customers have approached us because of the rental potential; this technology was previously only available to larger firms with the ability to purchase vehicles outright, we now see a far broader spectrum of clients.”

“Please describe what kind of feedback Kongsberg Maritime gets from customers using the MUNIN AUV.”

“The vehicle and its results generally stun the customer. Most clients are new to the AUV operations as this level of product was previously unreachable to most clients so it’s quite a step forward. Now with the rental ability even small level companies can take advantage of the high level AUV specification.”

In the central section of the MUNIN is a Honeywell inertial navigation unit, Sidescan sonars and Kongsberg Maritime EM2040 Multibeam echo sounder. This echo sounder surveys the seabed in a fan shape of up to 140 degrees.

“When you have navigation, motion and Multibeam separated together, calibration is required needed costing valuable field time. There are overlapping data that need to match. The Munin will be calibrated at the factory and should in principle stay calibrated for the rest of its life. This is quite unique. Also, no-one has ever placed such a high-quality sensor in such a small vehicle before, a first of its kind. It’s all about efficiency, being able to collect as much data as possible in as little running time as possible is an important point”, says Geir Espen Schmidt, Vice President AUV in Kongsberg Maritime, to Teknisk Ukeblad. 

In many ways, the MUNIN is a scaled-down version of the HUGIN. The electronics used to position and communicate at the same time is identical. Here, KM’s own cNode transponder is used.   Like its big brother, the MUNIN has the capacity to detect pipelines and follow them autonomously. Other important sensors on the MUNIN are a forward-facing sonar, hydrocarbon sniffers, a camera and sub-bottom profiler.

“MUNIN AUV can undertake many tasks from general environmental and bathymetric collection surveys to pipelines surveys. Equipped with Sidescan as well as Multibeam and Sub Bottom Profiler the data generated can be utilised by research groups through to commercial survey operations, each producing results beyond anything previously achievable”, says Craig Wallace.

“What makes the MUNIN unique compared to other AUV`s?” 

“Derived from the commercial sector the unit has far higher demands than that of traditional AUV operations and with broad spectrum of the on-board products manufactured in house from Kongsberg Maritime no other AUV has such a tightly integrated solution.”

Back in Scotland, the MUNIN is completing the survey of Loch Ness. One myth can be laid to rest right away. The loch bed is flat as a pancake. There is no deep ravine where Nessie the Loch Monster allegedly stays when she is not at the surface making headlines in the news.

"How many people can claim they found the Loch Ness Monster?" Craig Wallace

But headlines were made anyway. For when the data from the MUNIN were examined, the contours of a loch monster did in fact appear on the muddy bed. On 15 April a message to the world press is issued from Kongsberg Maritime:

“Time after time the search has been made, and time after time, they’ve all come back empty handed. However this week, Kongsberg Maritime Ltd, the UK division of Kongsberg Maritime, has achieved the unimaginable and uncovered the elusive Nessie. That is, the long lost model of Nessie which was used during filming of 1970’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.

“This was once in a lifetime opportunity. The first time Loch Ness has been surveyed in such detail and how many people can claim they found the Loch Ness Monster?”flat_bunn.png

“It certainly gave the MUNIN a lot of publicity. How has the feedback been after the Loch Ness operation?”

“The interest just continues to grow however the clients have genuine confidence in the product after having witnessed the results as they were broadcast around the world.”