Expert Panel: Hadal-class UUVs (Gliders, Landers, AUV, ROV)

Special Session (TH3): Expert Panel: Hadal-class UUVs (Gliders, Landers, AUV, ROV)

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 13:30-14:50

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session co-conveners: Kevin Hardy, Global Ocean Design

Barbara Fletcher, NIWC

Moderator:  Barbara Fletcher, NIWC


  1. Dr. Weicheng Cui, Westlake University, Hangzhou, China
  2. Dr. Shuxin Wang, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China
  3. Tim Shank, WHOI, Woods Hole, MA
  4. Kevin Hardy, DSc (hc), Global Ocean Design LLC, San Diego, CA


Session Summary:

Until the most recent times of history, ocean trenches were “unfathomable.”  But the great halls of the hadal sea are beginning to open to scientific investigation by nations around the globe.  Join this session to hear about some of the advances in technology that is allowing robotic vehicles the freedom to explore this unique environment: witnessing firsthand the geologic forces still very much at work, the ocean chemistry within the trench, and the animals who have found it to their liking.  Chile, China, Germany, Japan, UK, and USA have designed, built and successfully deployed unmanned undersea hadal vehicles including ocean landers, AUVS, ROVs, and now, gliders.


Weicheng Cui, Westlake University:  Presentation of the design and successful sea trials of the full ocean depth ARV “Dream Chaser” in the Mariana Trench, December 2020.

Dr. Shuxin Wang, Tianjin University: Petrel-X glider, is a full ocean depth glider that utilizes a dual-buoyancy-driven mechanism to adjust buoyancy and pitch angle simultaneously. The dynamic model integrates changes in seawater integrating the influences of environmental parameters and change in displaced volume of the glider.  In July 2020, the Petrel-X glider “Haiyan” successfully dove to 10,600 m in the Mariana Trench.  The national laboratory has since been developing a series of Petrel gliders capable of working at depths ranging from 200 m to depths in excess of 10,000 m.  The unmanned gliders can survey marine conditions, such as temperature, salinity and currents in large bodies of water over a long period of time. The Petrel-X gliders mark an important breakthrough for the advancement of China’s undersea scientific expedition program.

Tim Shank, WHOI:  Orpheus is both the new class of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of reaching the ocean’s greatest depths and the first vehicle of the class. Two identical Orpheus AUVs were built in 2018, named Orpheus and Eurydice after the famous pair from Greek mythology who adventured through the depths of Hades. The design of Orpheus is based on proven technology to minimize construction, shipping, and operational costs that permit it to be launched from small research vessels as well as ships of opportunity. In addition, it incorporates control and mapping software developed by the Jet Propulsion Lab that enables new performance standards than conventional AUV technology and eventually, the ability to reconfigure its objectives on-the-fly. Four fixed-directional thrusters and a compact shape make Orpheus nimble, permitting it to explore near the seafloor, land to collect samples, and lift off again to continue its mission.

Kevin Hardy, Global Ocean Design:  Discussion of scientific applications of unmanned ocean landers in hadal research, including sampling and sensing, and use as a test platform for more advanced unmanned vehicle classes.  Example Deep Ocean Vehicles (DOV) will include DOV Audacia (IMO/Chile, Atacama Trench), DOV Mike (DSC, New Britain Trench, Mariana Trench/Challenger Deep, Sirena Deep), DOV Mary Carol (Scripps, Aleutian Trench, Puerto Rico Trench), DOV Bobby Ray (Scripps, Puerto Rico Trench), and smaller but full ocean depth capable ocean landers, DOV BEEBE, DOV MUNK, DOV JEAN, and DOV LEVIN (all Scripps), and other landers in use.