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.

Truelove, N.K., N.V. Patin, M. Min, K.J. Pitz, C.M. Preston, K.M. Yamahara, Y. Zhang, B. Y. Raanan, B. Kieft, B. Hobson, L.R. Thompson, K.D. Goodwin, and F.P. Chavez. 2022. Expanding the temporal and spatial scales of environmental DNA research with autonomous sampling. Environmental DNA, 4(4): 972–984.

Zhang, Y., B. Kieft, B.W. Hobson, B.Y. Raanan, S. Urmy, K.J. Pitz, C.M. Preston, B. Roman, K.J. Benoit-Bird, J.M. Birch, F.P. Chavez, and C.A. Scholin. 2021. Persistent sampling of vertically migrating biological layers by an autonomous underwater vehicle within the beam of a seabed-mounted echosounder. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, 46: 497–508.

Zhang, Y., J.P. Ryan, B.W. Hobson, B. Kieft, A. Romano, B. Barone, C.M. Preston, B. Roman, B.Y. Raanan, D. Pargett, M. Dugenne, A.E. White, F. Henderikx Freitas, S. Poulos, S.T. Wilson, E.F. DeLong, D.M. Karl, J.M. Birch, J.G. Bellingham, and C.A. Scholin. 2021. A system of coordinated autonomous robots for Lagrangian studies of microbes in the oceanic deep chlorophyll maximum. Science Robotics, 6: 1–11.

Zhang, Y., B. Kieft, B. Hobson, J.P. Ryan, B. Barone, C.M. Preston, B. Roman, B.Y. Raanan, R. Marin III, T.C. O'Reilly, C.A. Rueda, and D. Pargett. 2019. Autonomous tracking and sampling of the deep chlorophyll maximum layer in an open-ocean eddy by a long-range autonomous underwater vehicle. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, 45(4): 1308–1321.


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