Journal Article

Autonomous underwater vehicles: future platforms for fisheries acoustics

Paul G Fernandes, Pete Stevenson, Andrew S Brierley, Frederick Armstrong and E.John Simmonds

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 684-691
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Autonomous underwater vehicles: future platforms for fisheries acoustics

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are unmanned submersibles that can be pre-programmed to navigate in three dimensions under water. The technological advances required for reliable deployment, mission control, performance, and recovery of AUVs have developed considerably over the past 10 years. Currently, there are several vehicles operating successfully in the offshore industries as well as in the applied and academic oceanographic sciences. This article reviews the application of AUVs to fisheries- and plankton-acoustics research. Specifications of the main AUVs currently in operation are given. Compared to traditional platforms for acoustic instruments, AUVs can sample previously impenetrable environments such as the sea surface, the deep sea, and under-sea ice. Furthermore, AUVs are typically small, quiet, and have the potential to operate at low cost and be unconstrained by the vagaries of weather. Examples of how these traits may be utilized in fisheries-acoustics science are given with reference to previous work in the North Sea and Southern Ocean and to potential future applications. Concurrent advances in multi-beam sonar technology and species identification, using multi-frequency and broadband sonars, will further enhance the utility of AUVs for fisheries acoustics. However, before many of the more prospective applications can be accomplished, advances in power-source technology are required to increase the range of operation. The paper ends by considering developments that may turn AUVs from objects sometimes perceived as science fiction into instruments used routinely to gather scientific facts.

Keywords: autonomous underwater vehicles; echosounders; sonar; power sources

Journal Article.  4774 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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