Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) such as Autosub can survey remote environments that are inaccessible to ROVs and other submersibles. Since 1996, Autosub has completed more than 200 deployments, demonstrating the capability for unescorted missions, routine launch and recovery in Force 6 conditions, sensor or data driven path determination and terrain following. The vehicle has been employed in projects ranging from herring stock assessment in the North Sea to mapping manganese distributions in a sea loch. Autosub has also successfully undertaken missions beneath sea ice in the marginal ice zone of the Weddell Sea.
Autosub measurements can include conductivity, temperature, transmissivity, fluorescence, photo-synthetically active radiation (PAR), current velocities, turbulence, ice draft, and water depth. Sub-bottom acoustic profiling can reveal structures of glacial origin in the seafloor sediments, while a water sampler can collect samples for geochemical and biological analyses. Swath bathymetry and sidescan sonar can provide measurements of iceshelf, sea ice and ocean bottom relief at high resolution. Other instruments can also be accommodated on the vehicle.