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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reimagining Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Charging Stations with Wave Energy


The vast capabilities of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)—such as in assisting scientific research, conducting military tasks, and repairing oil pipelines—are limited by high operating costs and the relative inaccessibility of power in the open ocean. Wave powered AUV charging stations may address these issues. With projected increases in usage of AUVs globally in the next five years, AUV charging stations can enable less expensive and longer AUV missions. This paper summarizes the design process and investigates the feasibility of a wave powered, mobile AUV charging station, including the choice of a wave energy converter and AUV docking station as well as the ability to integrate the charging station with an autonomous surface vehicle. The charging station proposed in this paper meets many different commercial, scientific, and defense needs, including continuous power availability, data transmission capabilities, and mobility. It will be positioned as a hub for AUV operations, enabling missions to run autonomously with no support ship. The potential market for this design is very promising, with an estimated $1.64 million market size just for AUV technologies by 2025.

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