The work area where the AUV was unpackaged and assembled, provided by NOAA’s Thunder Bay Sanctuary.

NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary provided the expedition with this work area. It was here that we unpackaged and assembled the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Click image for larger view and image credit.


Expedition Prep:
Assembling the AUV

August 16, 2010

Charles Loeffler
Senior Engineering Scientist
Applied Research Laboratories

camera icon See video of the AUV submerging and surfacing. (Quicktime, 500 Kb)

On the first day of the Thunder Bay 2010 expedition, the Applied Research Laboratories with the University of Texas at Austin (ARL:UT) team flew into, Michigan, from Austin, Texas. After arriving late in the afternoon, the explorers began to assemble the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in the work area provided by NOAA’s Thunder Bay Sanctuary.

The equipment was shipped to Thunder Bay on five pallets of crates and boxes. The AUV was divided into four parts: the tail-section with the propulsion motor and fins, the vehicle electronics and batteries section, the sonar processing computers and batteries section, and the sonar nose section.

After the assembly is complete, the AUV will be connected to a local-area computer network and tested to determine if all vehicle, sonar, mechanical, and electrical components survived the trip to Alpena. Finally, the AUV’s batteries are charged overnight for the next day’s in-water tests.

The ARL:UT team inspects one of the shipping pallets containing cases of equipment.

Team members from the Applied Research Laboratories with the University of Texas at Austin (ARL:UT) inspect one of the shipping pallets containing cases of equipment. Click image for larger view and image credit.


The vehicle electronics section and sonar computers section of the AUV are assembled and inspected.

The vehicle electronics section and sonar computers section of the AUV are assembled and inspected. Click image for larger view and image credit.


Once each component is assembled, the AUV sections are joined together.

Once each component is assembled, the AUV sections are joined together. Click image for larger view and image credit.


The team runs tests on the electronic and mechanical components of the completed AUV.

The team runs tests on the electronic and mechanical components of the completed AUV. Click image for larger view and image credit.