SPIRAL: A New Approach to Seafloor Mapping and Navigation That Enables True Low-Cost AUV Systems

Jeff Kaeli, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

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Abstract

Low-cost autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are entering markets as inexpensive scientific research platforms and classroom tools, but with their smaller price tags come a dramatic reduction in their navigational capabilities compared with state of the art inertial systems. We propose to develop and test a novel single transponder navigation scheme that utilizes the optimal spiral path geometry for areal search missions while keeping the total cost of the required on-board sensors to a minimum. This innovative approach is highly scalable to large numbers of AUVs that would be capable of surveying vast areas of seafloor in dramatically less time and with lower risk than a similarly priced top of the line AUV, and it could open up new markets in local law enforcement or search and rescue teams as well.