Unmanned Vehicles: 25 Years Of Milestones

As 2019 begins, the ocean tech community celebrates 50 years of Oceanology International, a global gathering and showcase of the tools and technologies used by maritime industry, science, and defense. In that retrospective spirit it is informative to look to the history of the unmanned maritime vehicle (UMV) community. While there are records of developments in the field as far back as 1957, the modern era traces its roots to the early 1990s. One key source of technology developments was the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Lab which spawned numerous vehicles, launched an industry leader, and trained many engineers now shaping the field around the world.

The evolution of AUVs, sometimes known as UUVs, and autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs), sometimes known and USVs, illustrates both technical and commercial influences. As the technology has matured the applications and business impact has grown too.AUVs ThenIn the early 1990s the MIT AUV Lab was working with a vehicle series known as the Odyssey Class. These were roughly 21 inches in diameter and about 2 meters long. They were designed to dive as deep as 6,000 meters but be relatively affordable and easy to deploy. These vehicles supported many science missions including under-ice work in the Arctic and oceanography in the Antarctic. A key program supported by these vehicles, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), was known as the Autonomous Ocean Sampling Network. This pioneered designs for docking ....

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