The Long Range AUV (LRAUV) was designed from scratch to fill a need for a mobile underwater robot that could observe upper ocean processes for up to one month, and be operate-able by a typical science lab.

MBARI researchers launch the long-range autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Tethys from the research vessel Paragon in Monterey Bay. This AUV travels through the water without direct control from shore, collecting information about the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the surrounding seawater.

LRAUVs have been used for over 36,000 hours of offshore across a fleet of eight vehicles and about one half of MBARI scientists now routinely use the LRAUV. A unique ultra-low energy transit mode allows the LRAUVs to be operated without a support ship, while still supporting high power payloads like mapping sonars and inertial navigation systems. Interchangeable payloads have been developed for microbial sampling, bioluminescence, active bio-acoustic imaging, water sampling, plankton imaging and multi-beam mapping (WHOI). An open-source dynamic simulator along with a backseat computer system facilitate custom application development and testing.

A novel offshore battery recharging station is being developed for the LRAUV to extend deployments to six months or more. The team has exported the system to the University of Hawaii and Woods Hole Oceanographic so far and is working on a way to make them available soon.



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Zhang, Y., N. Yoder, B. Kieft, A. Kukulya, B.W. Hobson, S. Ryan, and G.G. Gawarkiewicz. 2022. Autonomous tracking of salinity-intrusion fronts by a long-range autonomous underwater vehicle. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, 47(4): 950–958.

Godin, A., J.G. Bellingham, B. Kieft, and R. McEwen. 2010. Scripting language for state configured layered control of the Tethys long-range autonomous underwater vehicle. In OCEANS 2010 MTS/IEEE SEATTLE, Seattle, W.A., September 2010, 1–7. IEEE.      

Stanway, M.J., B. Kieft, T. Hoover, B. Hobson, D. Klimov, J. Erickson, B.Y. Raanan, D.A. Ebert, and J. Bellingham. 2015. White shark strike on a long-range AUV in Monterey Bay. In OCEANS 2015-Genova, Genova, Italy, May 2015, 1–7. IEEE.

Kukulya, L., J.G. Bellingham, J.W. Kaeli, C.M. Reddy, M.A. Godin, and R.N. Conmy. 2016. Development of a propeller driven long range autonomous underwater vehicle (LRAUV) for under-ice mapping of oil spills and environmental hazards: An Arctic Domain Center of Awareness project (ADAC). In 2016 IEEE/OES Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), Tokyo, Japan, November 2016, 95–100. IEEE.

Cheriton, M., E.E. McPhee-Shaw, W.J. Shaw, T.P. Stanton, J.G. Bellingham, and C.D. Storlazzi. 2014. Suspended particulate layers and internal waves over the southern Monterey Bay continental shelf: An important control on shelf mud belts? Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 119(1): 428–444.


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