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Underwater vehicle to monitor dams in Brazil

Environment, water quality and dams (or other structures) can now be monitored with an underwater vehicle developed by INESC TEC.

TriMARES is an autonomous underwater vehicle that was designed for autonomous inspections, bathymetry mapping and data collection in aquatic environments. Developed in six months by INESC TEC’s Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CROB), this underwater vehicle was commissioned by a consortium of hydroelectric power companies – CEB Lajeado from Brazil and EDP from Portugal. With this project, INESC TEC is clearly investing in an increasingly important area – the Sea.

TriMARES’ modular structure is based on the underwater vehicle MARES (developed by the OceanSys group – which includes elements from INESC TEC and the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto – FEUP) and allows it to carry several on-board sensor configurations. TriMARES is a more advanced version of MARES and its increased capacity allows it to carry an on-board high resolution camera, as well as different types of sonar equipment and sensors.

This underwater vehicle can be used, for instance, to measure water quality by analysing data such as temperature, pH, or even levels of pollution. Therefore, TriMARES is an advanced solution for environmental monitoring and water inspection and mapping.

TriMARES was recently exported to Brazil as part of a cooperation project with the Federal University of Juiz de Fora. The robot is being used to examine the Lajeado dam in Brazil and to collect data on water quality. All this makes TriMARES a versatile tool as it is capable of inspecting structures and silting in the basins, collecting data with precision and in real time.

The main features of the vehicle are:

  • Modular construction with reconfigurable sections;
  • Spare ports to accommodate sensors;
  • Robust, with fully shrouded moving parts;
  • Operates in confined spaces – able to ascend/descend vertically;
  • Immobilisation in the water column;
  • Autonomous operation with a simple mission definition;
  • Optional fibre-optic umbilical for video transmission;
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion batteries;
  • Length – 1.3 metres; width – 80 centimetres;
  • Autonomy/range: 10 hours / 40 kilometres;
  • Typical sensors: video camera, high sensitivity still camera, multibeam sonar, sidescan sonar, CTD, turbidity, fluorescence.

Partners: INESC TEC, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, CEB Lajeado and EDP – Energias de Portugal.

Contact: INESC TEC (e-mail:

More information: OceanSys


CROB +351 22 041 3317