Mechanical Design of a Self-Mooring Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
Briggs, Robert Clayton
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The Virginia Tech self-mooring autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is capable of mooring itself on the seafloor for extended periods of time. The AUV is intended to travel to a desired mooring location, moor itself on the seafloor, and then release the mooring and return to a desired egress location. The AUV is designed to be an inexpensive sensor platform. The AUV utilizes a false nose that doubles as an anchor. The anchor is neutrally buoyant when attached to the AUV nose. When the vehicle moors it releases the false nose, which floods the anchor making it heavy, sinking both the anchor and AUV to the seafloor. At the end of the mooring time the vehicle releases the anchor line and travels to the recovery location. A prototype vehicle was constructed from a small-scale platform known as the Virginia Tech 475 AUV and used to test the self-mooring concept. The final self-mooring AUV was then constructed to perform the entire long duration mission. The final vehicle was tested successfully for an abbreviated mission profile. This report covers the general design elements of the self-mooring AUV, the detailed design of both the prototype and final AUVs, and the results of successful field trials with both vehicles.
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