An important issue in the value of using specialist underwater vehicles or platform tracking including deep rated ROVs, hybrid AUVs, and manned submersibles for ocean science is the geolocation of samples and imagery to underpin science objectives. This ability is critical to understanding such data in increasingly finer process detail as well as in the broader context of area studies.


Science users rarely have the luxury of remaining on site for long, so the ability to position not just vehicles, but also a wide range of instruments including corers, camera platforms and geological drills from a research vessel without having to first deploy a seabed array of transponders, is an important factor in maximising precious ship time. The ability to operate from a ship of opportunity is also desirable for some users who want to be able to mount state-of-the-art science campaigns from vessels that are available close to their area of study.


Science users are among the most demanding subsea operators, working from the equator to the poles and in extreme deep environments, often comprising extremely rugged bottom topography that can include seamounts and canyons. Deep tow, extreme layback towfish or trawl net tracking is typical of such needs and underline the requirement for accurate positioning at slant ranges of up to 10,000 metres from the ship.


Nowadays autonomous systems are taking science well beyond the horizon of the research vessel and the need to independently position vehicles without a ‘mother’ ship is becoming routine.  These platforms are usually space and power limited, and are generating the need for all-in-one subsea vehicle navigation solutions that don’t compromise on positioning performance.


With scientists and marine technicians frequently embarking in research ships that are new to them and being faced by ever-increasing complex technology, the need to get the best out of these systems with minimal training has become critical.