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Underwater Robots

What is an AUV?

AUV stands for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. AUVs are unoccupied, untethered, battery-powered vehicles used to collect data for underwater research.

What are AUVs used for?

  • Creating maps of the ocean floor
  • Recording data on biological, chemical, and physical ocean conditions
  • Identifying hazards to navigation
  • Exploring geological formations
  • Documenting shipwrecks
The REMUS 600 AUV. Image courtesy of B. Eakins, CU Boulder and NOAA NCEI.

How do AUVs work?

  • Route and sampling protocol are pre-programmed by an operator on vessel or on land
  • Data collected by cameras, sonar, chemical sensors, and/or other water property sensors
  • Can accommodate a variety of sensors depending on the research needs
  • Depending on the model, AUVs can glide at the surface, dive deep, or even hover
  • Powered by onboard batteries
  • Stores images and other sensor data on onboard computers until the AUV can be retrieved after a dive

AUV fun facts

SMALLEST AUV: about the size of a coffee table

LARGEST AUV: about the size of a bus

DEPTH RANGE: Can travel to the full depth of the ocean and through shallow water ecosystems that would be difficult for large boats or ROVs to navigate.

LONGEST DIVE: missions can last weeks with a recharging plan in place, but dives can typically run ~24 hours

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