Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are the future of marine science. The ability to explore the oceans and collect data via unmanned, untethered robotic vehicles has greatly increased our understanding of the oceans. New and innovative autonomous vehicles being developed at the NOC are pushing the limits on how we can explore our oceans, with capabilities allowing us to reach new depths, travel under ice, take readings in remote areas and collect data during high sea states.

Autonomous vehicles can be deployed and remain at sea for several months, recording data and then transmitting the data back to shore when they surface. With so many questions about the physical, chemical and biological processes in our oceans, autonomous vehicles could provide the answers we are looking for. Current technology developments being undertaken by the NOC are detailed below.

In Development – Autosub2KUI

The development of Autosub2KUI at the NOC will provide the UK science community with a next generation, ship-launched, high-power, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) capable of operating under ice.


In Development – ecoSUB, small, low-cost AUVsecoSUB AUV

The ecoSUB program began with an Innovate UK and DSTL funded project which included the development of the ecoSUBu for autonomous launch and recovery via an unmanned surface vehicle. Early stakeholder engagement in the ecoSUBu indicated the requirement for a larger vehicle - to meet the emerging needs of the oil & gas industry, ecoSUBm was quickly conceived.

Developed in partnership with the NOC, the ecoSUB engineering and development team are based in the Innovation Centre, benefiting from the facilities and expertise located within hub of UK marine autonomous systems development.

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In Development - Autosub Long Range 1500

Autosub Long Range (ALR) 1500 will be our longest range AUV to date. With increased endurance and payload capacity, ALR1500 will be optimised for surveying the continental shelf and upper slope, with the potential to complete a full trans-Arctic mission, under ice.


In Development – BRIDGES deep glider project

BRIDGES glider projectThe NOC, together with 19 public and private partners from scientific institutions, industries and innovative SMEs from nine countries have received €8 million funding from the European Union Horizon2020 programme to work on the development of two new deep-sea autonomous gliders.

The two ground-breaking Ultra(Deep) EXPLORER gliders with be adapted to operate at 2400m (deep) and 5000m (ultra deep) and will have new and enhanced sensing capabilities as well as providing unique and exciting opportunities for the monitoring of oceanographic features in the deep sea.