Unlike ROVs, which are controlled by pilots from the ship, an AUV or autonomous underwater vehicle can travel in the sea without real-time input from an operator. These free-swimming vessels function without tethers and cables (although acoustic communication is possible), and usually follow preplanned routes along which they can map the seafloor quickly and at high-resolution. At the same time, the ship can be used for other experiments or mapping of the bathymetry of a nearby area. After the AUV has returned to its programmed location, data can be downloaded from the vessel and processed.
AUV operations: autonomous mapping of the seafloor
During this summer’s cruise, we will bring the Kongsberg Hugin AUV to map the shallow hydrothermal areas near Jan Mayen (less than 1000 m water depth).
Hugin AUV (image from km.kongsberg.no)