Autonomous surface vehicles

 Embedded Software Engineer Brian Kieft prepares the autonomous surface vehicle Wave Glider for a mission.

Some of MBARI’s investigations are focused on the surface–the interface between the atmosphere above and the ocean below. Autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs), like the Wave Glider, are ideal for these missions because they can put sensors right at the boundary, above, and below.

We can communicate with our ASVs via radio or satellite, and they can navigate using GPS, so they are easier to work with in some ways than autonomous underwater vehicles. But they also must deal with the challenges presented by other ships, waves, and weather.

We are beginning to use ASVs for many of the well-defined, repetitive tasks that ocean scientists used to need ships for. And at the same time we are developing ways to use them as communication gateways and navigation aids for autonomous underwater vehicles.