Tuvaaq AUV

Currently, research is underway to investigate the environmental impacts of oil development in the Prudhoe Bay region of the Beaufort Sea along the north coast of Alaska. Of particular interest are the impacts of construction of offshore gravel islands used for oil drilling and production. These islands may potentially contribute to high sediment concentrations into the nearshore waters of the Beaufort Sea, which could adversely affect marine ecosystems, which are dependent on the downwelling of sunlight for the growth of marine plantlife.

CTD and turbidity data collected during the winter months in this region requires drilling many sampling holes in the thick ice sheet on the surface of the Beaufort Sea. To aid in this effort, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) has been developed by the Underwater Technologies Laboratory (UTL) at Florida Institute of Technology. The purpose of this AUV is to perform automated data collection missions underneath the ice sheet, with a need for only one entry hole and one exit hole.

AUV Design Criteria

Autonomous Data Collection Parameters

Salinity, Temp, Depth, Turbidity

Autonomous Sub-Ice Navigation


Autonomous Depth Following


Minimum Operating Temperature (in water)

-1.8 °C

Minimum Storage Temperature (in air)

-20 °C

Maximum Water Current

0.75 m/s

Maximum Operating Depth

50 m

Maximum Speed

1 m/s

Maximum Entry / Exit Hole Diameter

0.6 m

Maximum Ice Thickness at Hole

2 m

Maximum Distance Between Entry/Exit Holes

500 m

Maximum Number of crew required

2 persons

Tuvaaq of the "Prudhoe Class" AUV from Florida Tech is designed for under-ice scientific studies.   The vehicle is designed to carry various instrumentation that communicates through standard RS-232 interface.  The standard equipment on the vehicle is a CTD and a turbidity sensor.

The vehicle is currently in the testing phase and is hoped to be fully operational in 2003.

Links to Polar and Arctic Research