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Analysis of Propulsion Methods for Long-Range AUVs

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Abstract:

Abstract

Underwater gliders use a buoyancy engine and symmetric wings to produce lift. During operation, gliders follow a saw-tooth trajectory, making them useful vehicles for profiling ocean chemistry. By operating at low speeds with low hotel loads, gliders achieve a high endurance. Man-portable, propeller-driven autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are capable of level flight and can also follow terrain to yield high-quality benthic imagery. These platforms typically operate at high speeds with high hotel loads resulting in relatively low endurance. Although both vehicles are used to collect oceanographic data, constraints on how these vehicles are used differentiate the nature of data they collect. This article examines whether one method of propulsion can provide an intrinsic advantage in terms of horizontal range at low speed, regardless of sampling design. We employ first-principle analysis that concludes that either class of vehicle can be designed to achieve the same horizontal transit performance regardless of speed. This result implies that the choice of propulsion method should be driven exclusively by the application and operational requirements.

Keywords: AUV Propulsion; Autonomous Underwater Vehicles; Long-range transit; Transit efficiency; Underwater gliders

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.44.2.3

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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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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