Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV’s)
In collaboration with our colleagues from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Delaware, we have facilitated the use of many state of the art autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV’s) in Palau. The Spray gliders are a remarkable tool for studying ocean currents and have been used with great success in Palau’s ocean waters since 2009. They gather current speed & direction, and physical information, such as temperature and salinity, from the surface to 1,000 m depth. Gliders use buoyancy to make them go up and down, with wings and fins to control their track through the water. They can relay this information to a shore base after making dives to several hundred meters, and stay at sea for several months. Gliders are largely autonomous except for communicating via satellite links with controllers on shore stations.
In contrast, the REMUS 100 (Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS) is a propeller-driven powered AUV that can work down to 100 m depth. It uses acoustic navigation to independently survey and can carry multiple sensor packages, such as side scan sonar, conductivity, temperature and light sensors and a series of Go Pro cameras to view up to 360o. REMUS’s have been used in Palau to discover new types of deep mesophotic reefs within the Palau lagoon, image fish in spawning aggregations and jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake.
Other AUV’s briefly used in Palau have been the Slocum glider, Liquid Robotics wave glider and an autonomous kayak as a platform for instruments.