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The Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) is a robotic underwater vehicle used for exploring the ocean to depths of 4,500 meters (14,764 feet). It was the first AUV used by the U.S. scientific community. ABE is often used in tandem with Alvin or Jason surveying large swaths of oceanfloor to determine the best spots for close-up exploration. ABE is designed to perform a pre-programmed set of maneuvers, using its five thrusters to move in any direction, hover, and reverse. The AUV excels at surveys of the shape of the seafloor (bathymetry), its chemical emissions, and its magnetic properties. ABE is particularly valuable in rugged terrain. Onboard sensors tell the vehicle how deep it is and how far it is off the ocean floor, and the AUV calculates its horizontal position by contacting a system of acoustic beacons (transponders) set out in fixed locations. Since its launch in 1996, ABE has made more than 200 dives, surveying an average of 16 kilometers (10 miles) per dive. The vehicle has been used to locate, map, and photograph many deep-sea hydrothermal vent sites and volcanoes. Geologists use ABE’s magnetic readings to understand the evolution of the Earth’s crust. During the 2007-2008 period we plan to replace ABE with a new vehicle named Sentry as the deep submergence AUV of the NDSF. Sentry is faster, has greater depth capability and is capable of longer deployments than ABE.
Dana Yoerger
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Blake 221, MS#07 Woods Hole, Ma. 02543
508 289 2608
Ship TypeAutonomous Underwater Vehicle
Operating Area
Endurance14-20 hours
Crusing Speed1.4 knots maximum
Lab Space
Power Availability5 kwh
Berthing Space
Deck Space
Telemetry AvailableAll sensor data are stored on the vehicle and retrieved upon recovery. See http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=10815  
[Yoerger 2005] D. R. Yoerger, M.Jakuba, A. M. Bradley, B. Bingham, Techniques for Deep Sea Near Bottom Survey Using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Int Symp Robotics Research, San Francisco, Oct 2005. [German 2005] C. R. German, D. P. Connelly, R. D. Prien, D. R. Yoerger, M. Jakuba, A. Bradley, T. Shank, K.-I. Nakamura, C. Langmuir, and L. M. Parsons. New techniques for hydrothermal plume investigaton by AUV. In Geophysical Research Abstracts, volume 7, Vienna, Austria, 2005. European Geosciences Union. [Kelley 2005] D. S. Kelley, J. A. Karson, G. L. Fruh-Green, D. R. Yoerger, T. M. Shank, D. A. Butterfield, J. M. Hayes, M. O. Schrenk, E. J. Olson, G. Proskurowski, M. Jakuba, A. Bradley, B. Larson, K. Ludwig, D. Glickson, K. Buckman, A. S. Bradley, W. J. Brazelton, K. Roe, M. J. Elend, A. Delacour, S. M. Bernasconi, M. D. Lilley, J. A. Baross, and R. E. S. and Sean P. Sylva. A serpentinite-hosted ecosystem:the Lost City hydrothermal field. Science, 307(5714):1428-1434, March 2005. [Fornari 2004] D. Fornari, M. Tivey, H. Schouten, M. Perfit, K. V. Damm, D. Yoerger, A. Bradley, M. Edwards, R. Haymon, T. Shank, D. Scheirer, and P.Johnson. Submarine lava flow emplacement processes at the East Pacific Rise 9 50’n: Implications for hydrothermal fluid circulation in the upper ocean crust. In P. German, Lin, editor, The Thermal Structure of the Ocean Crust and Dynamics of Hydrothermal Circulation, volume 148. AGU, 2004. [Langmuir 2004] C. H. Langmuir, C. German, P. Michael, D. R. Yoerger, D. J. Fornari, T. M. Shank, P. D. Asimow, H. N. Edmonds, and Lau2TEAM. Hydrothermal prospecting and petrological sampling in the Lau Basin: Background data for the integrated study site. In Eos. Trans. AGU, volume 5, 2004. Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B13A-0189. [Jakuba 2003] undefinedM. V. Jakuba and D.R. Yoerger, High-Resolution Multibeam Sonar Mapping With The Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE), UUST 2003, Durham NH, August 2003. [Bingham 2003] B.S Bingham, D.A Mindell, D. R. Yoerger, B. Foley, W. Seering, Acoustic Multipath Identification with Expectation-Maximization, Proc. Oceans 2003, San Diego, Sept 2003. [Cormier 2003] M.-H. Cormier, W. B. Ryan, A. M. Bradley, D. R. Yoerger, A. Shah, J. Sinton, R. Batiza, and K. Rubin. Variable extrusive emplacement mechanisms in the axial region of the East Pacific Rise. Geology, 31(7), 2003. [Shank 2003] T. Shank, D. Fornari, D.Yoerger, S. Humphris,A. Bradley, S.Hammond, J. Lupton, D. Scheirer,R. Collier,A.-L. Reysenbach, K. Ding, W. Seyfried,D. Butterfield, E. Olson, M. Lilley, N. Ward, and J Eisen, Deep Submergence Synergy - Alvin and ABE Explore the Galápagos Rift at 86°W, EOS, Oct 7 2003. [Carbotte 2003] S. M. Carbotte, W. B. Ryan, W. Jen, M.-H. Cormier, E. Bergmanis, J. Sinton, and S. White. Magmatic subsidence of the EPR at 1814’s revealed through fault restoration of ridge crest bathymetry. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst, 4(1), 2003. [Shah 2003] A. K. Shah, M.-H. Cormier, W. B. Ryan, W. Jin, J. Sinton, E. Bergmanis, J. Carlut, A. M. Bradley, and D. R. Yoerger. Episodic dike swarms inferred from near-bottom magnetic anomaly maps at the southern east pacific rise. J. Geophysical Research, 108(B2), 2003. [Bradley 2000] A. M. Bradley, A.R. Duester, S.P.Liberatore, and D.R. Yoerger, Extending the Endurance of an Operational Scientific AUV using Lithium-Ion Batteries, Proceedings of Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Showcase (UUVS) 2000, Southampton, United Kingdom, September 2000. [Yoerger 1999] D.R. Yoerger, A.M. Bradley, M-H. Cormier, W.B.F. Ryan,. and B.B. Walden, High Resolution Mapping of a Fast Spreading Mid Ocean Ridge with the Autonomous Benthic Explorer, 11th International Symposium on Unmanned Untethered Submersible Technology (UUST99), Durham, New Hampshire, August 1999. [Singh 1999] H. Singh, F. Weyer, J. Howland, A. Duester, D. Yoerger, A. Bradley, Quantitative Stereo Imaging from the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE), Proceedings Oceans ’99, Vol. 1, pp. 52-57, Seattle, Washington, September 1999. [Tivey 1998] M. A. Tivey, H. P. Johnson, A. M. Bradley, and D. R. Yoerger, Thickness of a submarine lava flow determined from near-bottom magnetic field mapping by autonomous underwater vehicle. Geophysical Research Letters, 25(6):805-808, March 1998. [Yoerger 1997] D. R. Yoerger, A. Bradley, B. Walden, H. Singh, and R. Bachmayer, Surveying a Subsea Lava Flow Using the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE), Journal of the Japan Society for Marine Surveys and Technology, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 43-60, March 1997 (in Japanese, the same paper appears in English in the International Journal of Systems Science, 1998).
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