Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Docking

auv docking station Figure 1. Docking Station being tested in MBARI test tank.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) mission durations can be extended by recharging their batteries while at sea using an AUV Docking Station. MBARI has designed and built two experimental docking stations for their Dorado and Long Range AUVs, though only the Dorado docking station has been tested at sea (Figure 2).

auv docking station recovery from deployment Figure 2. Docking station being recovered after deployment.[/caption]

An AUV docking station provides a secure place to park an AUV between missions and usually provides power to recharge batteries and a gateway for communications to shore. While many different mechanical designs have been suggested, most employ a tapering cone to align an in-coming AUV into a capture tube and some way to lock the AUV into the dock. MBARI added an inductive power transfer and wireless data telemetry and is described in

[1]. The docking station was designed to plug into the MARS cabled observatory

[2]. The docking station for the LRAUV was designed to be integrated onto a riser cable like that used on MBARI’s Wave-Power system

Powerbuoy at sunset in Monterey Bay

Wave-Power Buoy

The power buoy has been in development for six years, and has been deployed and recovered six times over the past four years. Modifications after each deployment have increased the power buoy’s efficiency and the amount of time it can spend out in the ocean.

Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys

The range and endurance of the new long-range AUV (LRAUV) greatly expands the types of observations and experiments possible with autonomous platforms. For instance, one of the institute’s AUVs carries a comprehensive suite of sensors out to MBARI’s M2 mooring and back.