Over the last seven years SeaBED-class AUVs have shown their versatility on missions ranging from shallow coral reef surveys to searches for deep sea hydrothermal vents, in environments ranging from the open ocean to the dense ice cover of the Arctic. Besides the original SeaBED vehicle, we operate two other vehicles at Woods Hole (Puma and Jaguar which are rated to 5000m) and have built or are in the process of building five vehicles for other groups to operate.
A number of marine biological, geological and archaeological applications share the need for high resolution optical and acoustic imaging of the seafloor. In particular, there is a compelling need for conducting studies in depths beyond those considered reasonable for divers (~50m) down to depths at the shelf edge and continental slope (~1000-2000m). SeaBED-class vehicles are designed expressly with these applications in mind. Each AUV consists of two hulls connected by aluminum spars. Most of the negative buoyancy is in the lower hull, while most of the positive buoyancy is in the upper hull; this makes the vehicles naturally stable in pitch and roll. The vehicles are designed for low-speed photographic and acoustic bathymetric mapping, and are designed to "fly" within a few meters of a rugged undulating sea floor.
SeaBED-class vehicles are capable of working off of small coastal vessels or fishing boats of opportunity, and can easily be broken into components for air-shipping. These capabilities enable inexpensive deployments at far flung oceanographic sites of interest. The complete source-code to all vehicles is provided to all users of SeaBED-class AUVs, making sensor additions or vehicle maintenance much simpler than that of competing commercial offerings. SeaBED-class vehicles are also much lower-cost than other AUVs on the market.