What is an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle?
The Slocum Autonomous Underwater
Gliding Vehicle is an integrated instrument platform designed to operate
in the coastal oceans. It is designed such that, by adjusting its volume
to weight ratio, it dives and climbs in a saw-tooth pattern to a predetermined
set of waypoints. The result is a low cost, highly adaptable autonomous
underwater vehicle with a very low power requirement. The end-user
programs the glider via text based mission files, which instruct the
glider to dive and climb to a predetermined set of waypoints (latitudes
and longitudes). Gliders are capable of communicating with a shore
based computer or human user via high frequency radio transmission
as well as by satellite (Iridium
Satellite LLC). The estimated range of operation is 1500km.
While the majority of the glider is reserved for glider mechanics, battery storage and communication equipment, a section is devoted specifically to scientific payload. Future plans include outfitting the vehicles with a suite of miniaturized physical and bio-optical instrumentation that measure water properties including temperature and salinity, as well as the absorption and scattering of light in the water column. These instruments, combined with the mobility and long-range communication capabilities of the glider, will provide continuous, near real time information on ocean physics and biology. This information will help to improve the accuracy of oceanic forecasts and ground truthing of ocean color satellite algorithms.