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Autonomous and Remotely Operated Vehicle Technology for Hydrothermal Vent Discovery, Exploration, and Sampling

Dana Yoerger, Albert Bradley, Michael Jakuba, Christopher German, Timothy Shank, Maurice Tivey
2007 Oceanography  
Autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles play complementary roles in the discovery, exploration, and detailed study of hydrothermal vents. Beginning with clues provided by towed or lowered instruments, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) can localize and make preliminary photographic surveys of vent fi elds. In addition to fi nding and photographing such sites, AUVs excel at providing regional context through fi ne-scale bathymetric and magnetic fi eld mapping. Remotely operated
more » ... Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) enable close-up inspection, photomosaicking, and tasks involving manipulation of samples and instruments. Increasingly, ROVs are used to conduct in situ seafl oor experiments. ROVs can also be used for fi ne-scale bathymetric mapping with excellent results, although AUVs are usually more effi cient in such tasks. We have used AUV and ROV technologies in a complementary fashion, inspired in part by the success of our coordinated operations with the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) and the human-occupied submersible Alvin (Shank et al., 2003) (Figure 1). Originally, we operated the AUV ABE and ROV Jason/Medea separately, either on different cruises or in different time slots on the same cruise. We have begun operating them simultaneously, making more productive use of valuable ship time. Key technical elements of simultaneous operations include managing multi-vehicle launch and recovery, compatible navigation systems, and the ability to leave the AUV unattended while the ROV works in another, perhaps distant, area. We have also found that an additional ability of the AUV to anchor when its mission ends before the ROV is recovered is very useful. By anchoring, the AUV remains safe in a known position without forcing a premature end to the ROV dive. B y D A N A r . y O E r G E r , A L B E r T m . B r A D L E y, m I c h A E L J A k U B A , c h r I S T O p h E r r . G E r m A N , T I m O T h y S h A N k , A N D m A U r I c E T I V E y
doi:10.5670/oceanog.2007.89 fatcat:dli3rwggqvaorc75tjf2ooxapy