Many know of Alvin or Jason Jr., two of the great underwater exploration vehicles of the past half-century. Both have deep ties to MIT, where researchers and alumni have been pioneers in the rapid development of robotic underwater vehicles. From the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to MIT’s Sea Grant College Program, the Institute has been a key incubator. In 1988, the new MIT Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Lab produced its first research test bed dubbed Sea Squirt. The lab conducted experiments in the Charles River, Boston Harbor, and various local lakes to help its researchers develop new instrumentation and specialized AUV layered-control software, which was based on pioneering work from MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Results from Sea Squirt experiments led to the development of the highly successful MIT Sea Grant Odyssey-class AUV in 1990. Used for naval and scientific experiments around the globe, Odyssey AUVs have contributed to the commercialization of AUVs.
Gift of the MIT Sea Grant Program.