Marine robotics

RRS Sir David Attenborough

A new polar ship for Britain

The ship will have the capability to deploy, operate and control large numbers of remotely piloted science instruments at the same time (i.e. both airborne and marine remotely operated vehicles and autonomous platforms) in polar regions.

Autosub

This autonomous autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) was developed by the National Oceanography Centre. It is outfitted with the latest oceanographic sensors, battery technology and advanced satellite communication.

Before launch from the ship, the AUV’s computers are programmed with instructions of where to go, what to measure, and what depths to go to. With no link to the mother ship, all communications with the AUV are limited to using acoustics while the AUV is underwater.

Autosub pre-deployment checks onboard RRS James Clark Ross during the JR58 autosub cruise. The autonomous unmanned vehicle (AUV) Autosub-2 travels beneath sea ice carrying a variety of scientific instruments to inaccessible parts of the ocean, to make measurements of Antarctic krill distribution and abundance, and of ice thickness.
Autosub pre-deployment checks. The autonomous unmanned vehicle (AUV) Autosub-2 travels beneath sea ice carrying a variety of scientific instruments to inaccessible parts of the ocean, to make measurements of Antarctic krill distribution and abundance, and of ice thickness.

Ocean gliders

Underwater gliders are a type of robotic underwater vehicle that uses an expandable oil-filled bladder to change the buoyancy of the vehicle instead of using a conventional propeller. As the liquid is pumped into or out of the bladder, the volume of the glider changes while its mass remains the same. As a result, its density changes and allows the device to rise or sink through the water. Its wings turn this vertical motion into forwards motion.

Gliders are very energy-efficient, making them a useful tool for gathering data from the oceans. They can be directed via two-way satellite communications link.

Ocean glider deployed in Antarctica. Photo: Damien Guihen
Ocean glider deployed in Antarctica. Photo: Damien Guihen

Autonomous underwater vehicles

The AUV 'seabed' being deployed from RRS James Clark Ross during the JR240 ICEBell Cruise in the Belingshaussen Sea. 'seabed' is an autonomous underwater vehicle from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) which, in this instance, carried various 'upward looking' instrumentation to study sea ice from bellow
Autonomous underwater vehicles carry various ‘upward looking’ instrumentation to study sea ice from below