Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Are they the Ideal Sensor Platforms for Ocean Margin Science?

  • S. McPhail


Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are fast becoming accepted as very useful data gathering platforms within the marine science community throughout the world, as the range and depth envelopes are being pushed, by developments in battery technology, propulsive efficiency, and pressure vessels technologies. It is already accepted that AUVs can bring great benefits in data quality and cost, in for example geophysical surveys for oil and gas exploration. But within the science community there is the perception that AUVs are expensive, complex and risky to use. Is this a fair representation, or is it based on outdated prejudices? This paper examines the advantages and disadvantages of the use of AUVs as platforms for Ocean Margin surveys, compared to conventional towed instruments, drawing on examples of AUVs currently being used throughout the world. It illustrates the development and use of a scientific AUV, Autosub, during the past four years. How has it developed to overcome technological problems, such as launch and recovery, and achieving greater depth and range, and how have the engineers coped with the integration of many different types of sensor? It discusses some possible reasons why AUVs are not more generally used for ocean surveys.


Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler Underwater Vehicle Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Inertial Navigation System Syntactic Foam 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. McPhail
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean Engineering DivisionSouthampton Oceanography CentreEmpress Dock, SouthamptonUK

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