Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
MBARI Research
Marine Technology research at MBARI —
Underwater vehicles

MBARI researchers have designed and made extensive use of robotic submersibles. These include remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are controlled through a tether to the sea surface, and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which are programmed at the surface and navigate through the water on their own. MBARI has pioneered a variety of creative uses of these high-tech vehicles as an alternative to sending humans down into the depths.
  • Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)—These robot submarines are programmed at the sea surface, then released to travel through the water, collecting data as they go.
  • Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)—ROVs are robotic submarines that are connected to a ship by a very long cable. Pilots and researchers aboard the ship control the ROV to observe and collect animals or perform experiments.
  • The benthic rover—This tractor-like robot crawls slowly across the deep seafloor, stopping periodically to collect data on animals that live in and on the seafloor sediment.

Autonomous underwater vehicles

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are programmed at the sea surface, then released to travel through the water, collecting data as they go. MBARI has designed and built several modular AUVs. One (the "CTD AUV") collects information about water chemistry, temperature, microscopic marine algae, and microscopic organisms that glow in the dark, and can also collect water samples for later analysis in the lab. The "mapping AUV" is used to create detailed bathymetric maps and can also show layers of sediment below the seafloor. Currently, we are developing computer programs that will allow AUVs to make decisions on their own—essentially changing their programs, depending on what they encounter during their journeys.
Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)—ROVs are robotic submarines that are connected to a ship by a very long cable. Pilots and researchers aboard the ship control the ROV to observe and collect animals or perform experiments. ROVs have been a primary tool for research at MBARI ever since 1989, when MBARI acquired ROV Ventana. Our researchers are continually updating and improving our ROVs, as well as adding new tools that allow them to do everything from laying fibre-optic cables on the seafloor to performing chemistry experiments 3,500 meters below the ocean surface. Our second ROV, Tiburon, was designed and built at MBARI, but was retired in 2008 for a newer, more powerful ROV, the ROV Doc Ricketts.
The benthic rover

The benthic rover crawls slowly across the deep seafloor, stopping periodically to collect data on animals that live in and on the seafloor sediment.
    MBARI lead researcher in this field:
    Ken Smith (Marine ecologist)

 


Last updated: Jun. 10, 2014