AUV: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle


Guy Williams, Rowan Frost, Clay Kunz, Polly Alexander, Peter Kimball

An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is a robot which travels underwater without requiring input from an operator. AUVs constitute part of a larger group of undersea systems known as unmanned underwater vehicles, a classification that includes non-autonomous remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), which are controlled and powered from the surface by an operator via an umbilical using remote control.

The AUV project is an exciting collaboration between the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC), Australian Maritime College (AMC) and the WoodsHole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), Massachusetts, USA. Two research engineers from WHOI are bringing a SEABED-class Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for floe-scale measurements beneath Antarctic sea ice during SIPEX-2.

The primary objective is to measure the 3-D under sea ice topography with an upward-looking multibeam sonar, which in conjunction with other surface-based projects promises to greatly enhance our understanding of Antarctic sea ice thickness beyond standard drilling methods.

Secondary objectives involve other on-board sensors including a hyperpsectral radiometer for the bio-optical regime beneath the sea ice, a Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth sensor (CTD) for oceanography and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) for currents and acoustic backscatter.

The AUV will operate in a 250-500m grid alongside the ship during ice stations.  Each mission will take approximately 4-5 hours to complete before the AUV returns to the ship.

Team Members are Guy Williams – AUV and Sea Ice Specialist (ACECRC); Clay Kunz – Lead AUV Research Engineer (WHOI); Peter Kimball – AUV Research Engineer (WHOI); Rowan Frost – Research Engineer (AMC); Polly Alexander – PhD student (AMC/CSIRO)

Guy Williams:

Rowan Frost –

Polly Alexander –

Clay Kunz –

Peter Kimball  –