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AUVs and Scientific Diving: A Looming Conflict?

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Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are swimming robots whose use promises to revolutionize our scientific understanding of aquatic ecosystems. AUVs sample the environment at spatial and temporal scales that would be prohibitively expensive using conventional technology. Other tasks well-suited for AUVs include automated gathering of environmental data used for monitoring ecosystem health and marine food resources, facilitating search and recovery operations and drug traffic interdiction, and increasing national security. However, increasing operations of greater numbers and kinds of AUVs in situations where scientific diving occurs pose a potential hazard that needs to be addressed. We review scenarios where AUV/diver conflicts are likely to occur, make estimates of the scope of the problem, and offer some initial thoughts concerning threat mitigation. Ultimately, a ’consensus standard’ will be needed with contributions from the emerging AUV robotics industry, AUV academic R&D centers, military us ers, the commercial, scientific, and recreational diving community, and civilian agencies concerned with maritime commerce, marine science, and human safety.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Marine Science Virginia Institute of Marine Science College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, VA 2: Sias Patterson, Inc., Gloucester Point, VA 3: Diving Safety Office Virginia Institute of Marine Science College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, VA

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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