AUV and ROV Technology Course


This 2-day course offers a descriptive review of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) developed by industry and government. It traces the factors that influenced the development of underwater vehicles, and includes a description of the varied instrumentation and systems that developed concomitantly for their support and deployment. The class will focus on standing-up operational and maintenance facilities and equipment to support these vehicles.

Course Outline:

1. Operational Overview – Common to Both ROVs And AUVs.

2. Recognizing Where Most Operations Fail. Connectors • Recovery • User error • Navigation – calibration / failures • Launch • Poor maintenance • Poor practices.

3. Know Your System. Software Architecture • Sub-system Interfaces • Architecture / Failure analysis. • Health and Status data • Impact on data.

4. Lack of Communications.

5. Weight and Balance. • Stability • Data impact.

6. Data Analysis.

7. Thrust and Attitude. • Impact on instruments and data.

8. System Safety. Personnel Safety, Consistency.

9. ROV/AUV Maintenance Items In Common. • Red Flags.

10. If You Don’t Know – Ask!

11. ROV Operational Techniques. • Vehicle class versus capability • Work space realm • Support. • Modification/Upgrades • Form Factors • Costs..

12. Control Room. • Layout • Functions • Data capture vs real time display. • Mission space (think ahead) • On deck versus in water. • Checklist • Buoyancy • Systems check • Limited Deck Operation.

13. Maintenance considerations. • Ground faults • DC versus AC.

14. Lifting And Storage Facilities Onshore And At Sea.

15. Ancillary Equipment. • Manipulators for ROV’s, cameras for ROVs & AUV’s.

16. Dead Vehicle Recovery. • What to do if your ROV is lost • Cost vs. risk. Location • Mission review • Boat instrumentation – monitoring.

17. AUV Operational Techniques (Focus On Launch And Recovery Operations). • Vehicle class versus capability • Work space realm • Support. • Modification/Upgrades.

18. Form Factors. • Costs • Maintenance considerations • Ground faults. • DC versus AC.

19. Lifting And Storage Facilities Onshore And At Sea.

20. Ancillary Equipment.

21. Manipulators For ROV’s, Cameras For ROVs And AUV’s.

22. What To Do If Your AUV Is Lost.

23. Cost vs. Risk.


  • William Kirkwood has been with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) since 1991 and in that time has held many positions, including Director of Engineering. Mr. Kirkwood has also developed a number of vehicles and instruments at MBARI including the remotely operated vehicle ROV Tiburon, the autonomous vehicle class AUV Dorado and the deep ocean Raman systems (DORISS) to name a few. Technical expeditions have included; operating autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) under ice in the Arctic, 3 months in Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division working in the field near Casey Station, piloting the ROV Jason in the Mariana Trench and diving as Chief Scientist with the human occupied submersible Alvin to a depth of 4370 meters in the Costa Rican Trench. Bill Kirkwood graduated from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1978 with his BSME and received an MSCIS in 2000 from the University of Phoenix. Mr. Kirkwood is active in the community as an Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University (SCU) in the Engineering Department and has developed numerous vehicles and instruments with undergrad and graduate students since 1999. Mr. Kirkwood also sits on the board of advisors at SCU for the Mechanical Engineering Department. Currently, he is the Treasurer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Oceanic Engineering Society as well as Chair of the Innovative Technology and Co-Chair of the Autonomous Vehicles Committees within OES.

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