What is the difference between an AUV and an ROV?

An AUV operates independently from the ship and has no connecting cables, whereas ROVs are connected to an operator on the ship.

VIDEO: What's the difference between an AUV and an ROV? Here's what you need to know in one minute. Transcript

AUV stands for autonomous underwater vehicle and is commonly known as unmanned underwater vehicle. AUVs can be used for underwater survey missions such as detecting and mapping submerged wrecks, rocks, and obstructions that can be a hazard to navigation for commercial and recreational vessels.

An AUV conducts its survey mission without operator intervention. When a mission is complete, the AUV will return to a pre-programmed location where the data can be downloaded and processed.

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is an unoccupied underwater robot that is connected to a ship by a series of cables. These cables transmit command and control signals between the operator and the ROV, allowing remote navigation of the vehicle. An ROV may include a video camera, lights, sonar systems, and an articulating arm. The articulating arm is used for retrieving small objects, cutting lines, or attaching lifting hooks to larger objects.

While there are many uses for ROVs, some of the most common hydrographic applications include object identification (for submerged navigation hazards) and vessel hull inspections. An ROV is not intended to be a replacement for hydrographic diver investigations, but could serve as a substitute if divers are not available or diver safety is in question.

Video Transcript

Here are two unmanned ocean explorers. Can you spot the difference between the two? One, an AUV or Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, explores ocean depths without any attached cables. Researchers drop an AUV in the ocean pick it up at a pre-selected position. Like an AUV, a Remotely Operated Vehicle is unmanned. The difference is that an ROV is connected to a ship by cables. A person on the ship “drives” it around. ROVs are often used when diving by humans is either impractical or dangerous, such as working in deep water or investigating submerged hazards. ROVs and AUVs carry equipment like video cameras, lights, robotic arms to grab things. By going where humans can’t go, these underwater robots help us safely study the ocean.