Explore the Deep Sea

Tools & Techniques

Manned and unmanned submarine vehicles used in deep-ocean research.


Some submersibles are built to transport humans to great depths. While manned vehicles can be immensely valuable in providing researchers with direct experience of the seafloor, they are more costly to operate than unmanned vehicles, and typically are less versatile (they cannot reach the same depths, and need to return to the surface sooner). Examples include:

Remotely operated

"Remotely Operated Vehicles" (ROVs) do not take humans to the seafloor. Rather, they carry equipment and make measurements under the control of humans on-board ship. These vehicles are attached to the ship by a long tether, which carries the control commands to the sub. Examples of this sort of vehicle include:

Autonomous (operating on their own)

Unlike ROVs, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are not attached to the ship. They can be pre-programmed to move and collect samples on their own, without constant direction from the ship. Examples of this sort of vehicle include:

Next: ABE