Versatile and adaptable – MUM research project conquers the deep sea

The weather conditions on the world’s oceans are often rough and difficult to forecast. To ensure that work on the open seas is nevertheless safe for people and does not harm the environment, thyssenkrupp is now developing a new type of unmanned underwater vehicle to explore and harness the potential of the world’s oceans in collaboration with partners from Berlin Technical University, the University of Rostock, Atlas Elektronik and EvoLogics. The research and development project, which will receive funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy over three years, is known as the Large Modifiable Underwater Mothership, or MUM for short (FK: 03SX439).

MUM is breaking with old conventions: The modular, unmanned underwater vehicle performs its tasks largely autonomously. Its unique modular design enables the new vehicle class to be customized cost-efficiently for each mission. Individual base modules can be freely combined with specific mission modules to form large systems, enabling even unusual and highly specialized tasks to be performed quickly and easily. Possible activities range from payload transportation and operations to research missions and stationary deep-sea tasks. This makes the new underwater vehicle ideal for industrial use in the areas of offshore energy and deep-sea mining as well as other applications, for example in maritime science.

The completely emission-free and air-independent fuel cell propulsion system also makes the underwater vessel ideal for use in highly ecologically sensitive environments. It can operate continuously at depths down to 5,000 meters for several weeks at a time. With a payload capacity of several tons, MUM is capable of handling even heavy-duty tasks.

The individual modules can be reused, permitting a significant reduction in costs compared with conventional vehicle concepts and much quicker development cycles. Newly developed mission modules are also easy to integrate. The project is being supported by an expert group of potential future users and industry experts.