Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
AUV docking system

This project involved the design, development and demonstration of an AUV docking system for Dorado-class AUVs that enable a variety of science operations, especially event-response scenarios. The system was designed to support extended deployments of a docking AUV using a cabled observatory for power and communications.

Video showing the AUV being launched from the research vessel Zephyr. The Dorado-class AUV conducted a series of docking trails. No audio available.

The docking system consisted of elements such as ultra-short baseline (USBL) homing systems, communication links, and inductive power transfer devices. Data and power transfer modules developed in 2005 were integrated into the dock and tested. Researchers demonstrated latching mechanisms and a dock control module using the dock system.

AUV docking system being tested in the underwater test tank at MBARI

The AUV docking system in the MBARI test tank.


  • Bellingham, J. G., McEwen, R. S., and Hobson, B. W., “The Development of a Docking Station for a Regional Cabled Observatory,”  Proceedings of Scientific Submarine Cable 2006, Dublin Ireland, Feb 8-10, 2006.

  • Hobson, B. W., McEwen, R. S., Erickson, J., Hoover, T., McBride, L., Shane, F., and Bellingham, J. G., “The Development and Ocean Testing of an AUV Docking Station for a 21” AUV,” Oceans, Vancouver, B.C., October 2007.

  • McEwen, R. S., Hobson, B. W., and Bellingham, J. G., “Docking Control System for a 21” Diameter AUV,” Unmanned Untethered Systems Technology, New Hampshire, 2007.

  • McEwen, R. S., Hobson, B. W., and Bellingham, J. G., “Docking Control System for a 54-cm-Diameter (21-in) AUV,” IEEE J. Ocean. Eng33(4) 550-562, 2008. (expanded version of UUST paper)

Last updated: Aug. 17, 2010