The requirements to rapidly characterize environmental conditions in dynamic near-shore waters have greatly outpaced the developing inventory of traditional resources to conduct this sampling. Research vessels, remote sensors, and networked in situ sensing platforms (fixed and drifting) are often limited in availability, capability, and/or adaptability, with the result that surveys can not be rapidly conducted in areas of immediate concern to communities, industry, and military defense. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have been evolving over the past decade, with the ability to provide rapid environmental assessment as one of the primary objectives. However, the trade-off of cost and capability limited early designs and prohibited broad and effective utilization of these platforms for environmental data-collection missions. AUVs capable of sustained performance for sampling dynamic parameters in areas of high spatial and temporal variability were too costly, both in terms of procurement and operation, and lower cost AUVs did not have sufficient performance for operating in these challenging near-shore conditions. The development of low-cost, lightweight vehicles for these missions has only recently occurred, enabling responsive, multi-platform surveys to capture synoptic characterizations of near-shore waters with sufficient resolution to support data-centric 3-D models and provide baseline data sets for development and validation of physics-based forecasting models. Recent survey operations with one candidate class of AUVs developed by OceanServer Technology, Inc. reveal the hardware/software status of state-of-the-art designs and provide a basis for developing survey strategies essential to effective mission planning.
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.