Autonomous underwater gliders, and in particular autonomous underwater gliders, represent a rapidly maturing technology with a large cost-saving potential over current ocean sampling technologies for sustained(month at a time) real-time measurements.

This report gives us an overview of the main building blocks of an underwater glider system for propulsion, control, communication and sensing. A typical glider operation, consisting of deployment, planning, monitoring and recovery will be described using the 2003 AOSN-II field experiment in Monterey Bay, California.

We briefly describe recent developments at NRC_IOT, in particular the development of a laboratory-scale glider for dynamics and control research and the concept of a regional ocean observation system using underwater gliders.

Sampling the oceans has traditionally been conducted from ships, with the first Global Oceanographic Research Cruise by Sir Wyville Thomson on the HMS Challenger From 1872-1876. It led to numerous discoveries such as Mid-Atlantic ridge and the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench to name only a few. Surprisingly it took over23 years to compile the results.
Today with increasing use of remote sensing technologies from satellites and airplanes more and more data becomes available and needs to be processed. Current remote sensing technologies, airborne or from space, do not penetrate far below the Oceans surface. In order to gain more insight into the temporal and spatial processes below the surface we were until recently depending on ship based measurements and moorings. Over the last few decades alternative technologies such as sub-surface floats, remotely operated vehicles (ROV™S) and Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV™S) have emerged to complement the existing sensing techniques. Visions of autonomous platforms roaming the oceans have not come true yet, but technological advances pushed by these visions brought us a long way from the CHALLENGER cruise. These small, smart, inexpensive instrument platforms offer the promise of describing the ocean interior with much higher resolution in space and time than is possible with techniques reliant on ships and moorings. Autonomous floats have demonstrated the power of a distributed network to describe circulation at comparatively modest cost. Profiling versions of these floats are poised to monitor the large scale hydrographic structure of the ocean interior.

Below is an attachment for a detailed presentation on Underwater Gliders