Autonomous Underwater Explorers Described in the Journal Nature Communications

Today results from our first field deployment with a swarm of Autonomous Underwater Explorers (M-AUEs) were published in the journal Nature Communications. The article describes the deployment of 16 M-AUEs several kilometers off the coast of Torrey Pines State Park. Along with the M-AUEs, a surface array of acoustic pingers was deployed in a pentagon formation and used to track the M-AUEs underwater in three dimensions. The resulting tracks were used to visualize internal waves propagating through the swarm. The article: A Swarm of Autonomous Miniature Underwater Robot Drifters for Exploring Submesoscale Ocean Dynamics was authored by Jules S. Jaffe, Peter J. S. Franks, Paul L. D. Roberts, Diba Mirza, Curt Schurgers, Ryan Kastner and Adrien Boch.

We would like to thank Rich Walsh who provided small boat support during the development of the M-AUEs and the operations performed during these experiments, Devin Ratelle, Eric Orenstein, Phil  Bresnahan, Mike Ouimet, and Mike Bianco for assisting in the deployment and recovery during the experiment, and the maintainers of the OAR/Keck Pool at SIO for facilitating countless hours of pool testing leading up to the field work.

Below are videos and articles covering the work.

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New Benthic Underwater Microscope Described in the Journal Nature Communications

Today results from our work on the Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM) were published in Nature Communications. The article Underwater microscopy for in situ studies of benthic ecosystems reports on the development of the BUM and its application to studying several important benthic processes in situ. The paper was authored by Jaffe Lab members Andrew D. Mullen, Tali Treibitz, Paul L.D. Roberts, and Jules Jaffe; as well as coral ecologists Emily L.A. Kelly, Rael Horwitz, and Jennifer E. Smith.

We would like to thank Dr. Amatzia Genin who provided support and critical guidance during the studies of coral polyp behavior, which were filmed at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel. We also thank the Keck Foundation for their support funding the instrument development. Additionally we thank the National Science Foundation, Link Foundation, and Binational Science Foundation for supporting Andrew Mullen’s research.

Below are several videos and articles covering the work.

New York Times:


UCSD interview with Andrew Mullen:


Interview with Jules Jaffe

Nature Video:


NSF Science 360 Video:

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Quantification of Internal Wave Processes on Plankton Experiment Completed

Yesterday we competed the first of hopefully many experiments to study the effect of internal waves on the distribution of plankton in the ocean. The experiment was ambitious, consisting of deploying 16 small autonomous floats multiple times per day, 5 surface pingers, two bottom mounted ADCPs, two thermistor strings, one wirewalker with CTD, optical sensors, acoustic backscatter, and real-time data telemetry, and a dual magnification plankton microscope attached to the end of a plankton net, rapid vertical CTD profiles from a second CTD, and a helikite to observe the surface signal of internal waves. The experiment spanned three weeks and included 100s of autonomous float profiles, 3,564 wirewalker profiles, millions of plankton images, 100s of CTD cast, and close to zero data or instrument loss. A great success! Below are a few images shot over the coarse of the experiment.


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Delivery of new SPC system to NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Last week Eric Orenstein delivered a new build of the SPC system to Eric Danner’s group at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, CA. This new build incorporates larger optics to yield a 0.5 L imaged volume, a brightfield illumination to work well even in turbid river and estuary waters, and a custom flow chamber to allow drift nets, pumps, and other methods to collect plankton and pipe them through the imaged volume. More details about the new system can be found on the research page: SPC NOAA Fisheries

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UCSD MAE students build Nano AUVs

We had two excellent design teams this year work on the problem of building small open source AUVs. They just competed their final projects and have some excellent results. Click on the image below for more details or follow this link: Open Source Nano AUVs


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Delivery of new SPC system to Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, AK

Last week we delivered a brand new build of our SPC system to Rob Campbell at the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, Alaska. The new build features a much larger imaged volume, a new method for attaching the strobe housing to the camera housing, all new electronics including a faster ODROID processor with 8 cores at 2 GHz, and a revised version of our real time object detection software. More details about the system and its application in Rob’s profiling mooring are available on the research projects page: SPC Prince William Sound Science Center


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