Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)

The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute for the Protection of Maritime Infrastructures can be used both remotely at short distances up to 300 metres and autonomously for missions with longer ranges. It has an operational depth of up to 600 metres. The hybrid concept thus combines the capabilities of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with those of an autonomous vehicle. The vehicle's design incorporates a high degree of modularity. In addition to its built-in sensors, users can integrate their own specially developed sensors into the vehicle.

The underwater vehicle enables the autonomous underwater collection of sensor data. However, real-time data capture can also be performed via remote operation. The sensors enable the following applications:

  • Side-scan sonar: mapping large areas of the seabed using two different frequencies (two-dimensional display)
  • Multibeam echosounder: bathymetric surveying of the seabed (three-dimensional display)
  • High-resolution camera system: inspection and identification of underwater structures
  • Sub-bottom profiler: detection of sedimented objects

The AUV combines multiple capabilities in a comparatively compact design that enables the system to be mobilised quickly, especially in areas of deployment such as the North Sea and Baltic Sea. This represents a previously unavailable basis for underwater multisensory data capture. When combined with monitoring systems on land and in the air, it enables the near-real-time detection of all moving objects. With the AUV, it is possible to obtain a digital situation overview with unprecedented timeliness and reliability. The underwater vehicle can be used as a research support and sensor platform for further developing proprietary sensors and communication modules for the maritime security research sector.


Volker Speelmann

Head of Research Infrastructures
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Executive Board department for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructure
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

David Heuskin

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
In­sti­tute for the Pro­tec­tion of Mar­itime In­fras­truc­tures
Fischkai, 27572 Bremerhaven