Over the past decade, acoustic communication from Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) has been demonstrated as a bridge to capabilities that are too expensive or too complex to develop full autonomy for. The value of the ability to view even simple data in real time and react to it has significantly improved both the capability for ocean exploration, and for science. Recently the technology for acoustic communication has increased substantially and been linked to other communication paradigms. Simultaneously, processing of some types of data has become nearly automated allowing for transmission of higher value data. This confluence of events offers exciting new work paradigms for ocean exploration and ocean science including much more efficient utilization of assets, faster mission accomplishment, and eventually shipless ocean exploration and even perhaps shipless sampling. We propose to utilize substantial existing work as well as develop new tools which will allow a deep water demonstration of the utility of these technologies.
During a Sentry cruise of opportunity to either methane seeps or hydrothermal vents, we propose to generate multibeam maps with annotated targets and move them to the surface once per hour. We will then allow human operators to request additional resolution where needed and replan the mission to conduct photographic surveys.
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