You are here


Seaglider – Long Endurance, Buoyancy-Drive Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)

Video Provided by University of East Anglia

Seaglider® Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have revolutionized the collection of ocean data. They use changes in buoyancy to move through the water column in a saw-tooth pattern while continuously collecting data. This results in very low power consumption and long endurance of up to 10 months depending on configuration and payloads.

Data from NOAA-AOML Seagliders used for hurricane monitoring

The Seaglider’s operational model and robust design enable it to perform in virtually any sea state and weather condition. Data gathering missions can last many months while the vehicle traverses thousands of miles. It surfaces periodically to determine its position, transmit collected data and receive commands via satellite telemetry. The vehicle is relatively small and lightweight, enabling deployment via small vessels of opportunity.

Seaglider was jointly developed by the University of Washington School of Oceanography and University of Washington Applied Physics Lab starting in 1995 with funding provided by the Office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation. In 2013, the UW stakeholders worked with CoMotion, UW’s collaborative innovation hub, to identify an industrial partner to manufacture and support Seaglider on a commercial level.  CoMotion is dedicated to expanding the economic and societal impact of the UW community. Hydroid continues to further develop Seaglider in collaboration with UW and other partners such as NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Labortatory.


  • Physical Oceanography
  • Chemical Oceanography
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Climate Change Studies
  • Ocean Observatories
  • Storm Monitoring
  • Ecosystem Assessment
  • Fisheries Research
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
  • Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR)
  • Baseline Environmental Assessment
  • Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Mammals
Operate from Anywhere in the World

Vehicle is piloted remotely via the internet and satellite link.

Data is retrieved in near real-time via satellite telemetry.

Robust design allows remote deployment.

Long-Endurance Data Collection

Low drag, flooded fiberglass composite fairing.

Extended duration deployment, up to 10 months.

Ultra-lower power ARM processor.

Low Cost

Low capital cost – a fraction of traditional methods for collected the same data.

Can be launched from small vessels of opportunity, reducing deployment costs.

Versatile Payload Capability

Versatile payload capability for collection of a wide range of high-quality ocean data.

Sensors can be integrated into dry or wet payload volumes.

Simple and versatile sensor interface.

Vehicle Dimensions

Length: 1.8 - 2 meters (configuration dependent)

Wing span: 1 meter

Antenna mast: 43 cm – 1 meter (configuration dependent)

Maximum Diameter: 30 cm

Weight in Air

Less than 60 kg

Maximum Operating Depth

1000 meters


Lithium sulfuryl chloride primary batteries 17 MJ


Up to 10 Months (dependent upon configuration, sampling rate and operational area)


Typical speed 25 cm/s (0.5 kt)


Small changes in buoyancy and wings are used to achieve forward motion.

The system's pitch and roll are controlled using adjustable ballast (the vehicle battery).

Navigation Methods

Navigation is accomplished using a combination of GPS fixes while on the surface and internal sensors that monitor the vehicle heading, depth, an attitude during dives.

Dead reckoning between surface GPS fixes using a 3-axis digital compass.

Acoustic altimeter and bathymetry map system for near-bottom dives.


Iridium satellite telemetry


Piloting Tools software included with standard system.

Optional subscription-based cloud user interface for mission planning, monitoring and control.

Standard Configuration

Standard Fairing

Antenna with Iridium and GPS

Conductivity & Temperature Sensor

3-Axis Compass

Pressure Depth Sensor

Emergency Transponder

Acoustic Altimeter

Launch & Recovery Cradle

Ogive Configuration

Upgrading to an Ogive fairing provide more volume for additional sensors

Optional Sensors/Equipment

Oxygen Sensor

Fluorometer/Optical Backscatter Devices

Passive Acoustic Monitoring

Microstructure/Turbulence Sensor


Single-Beam Echosounder

Turbidity Sensor


Ruggedized Computer for Field Operations

Acoustic Deck Box for Emergency Recovery

Additional sensors can be integrated upon request

Water Density Plot
Salinity, PSU, to Temperature, Degrees Celsius
Disolved Oxygen Plot
Seaglider, Disolved Oxygen, Depth
Temperature Salinity Plot
Salinity, Temperature, Depth
Health Monitoring

When sending data via Iridium, Seaglider also sends health status information including:

  • Internal Pressure
  • Internal Humidity
  • Hydraulic System Status
  • Mass Shifter Status
  • Battery Level

Critical system faults will result in mission abort and notification sent via satellite telemetry.

Communication and Tracking

Operators can monitor the Seaglider’s progress and status via Iridium. GPS coordinates are sent via Iridium to pinpoint location and allow you to track the vehicle throughout the mission. You can also use Iridium to communicate with the vehicle, redirecting the mission or changing mission parameters.

Emergency Localization

If the mission aborts and the vehicle surfaces, it will send an alert via Iridium.

There is additional optional equipment available for purchase for emergency localization, including:

  • ARGOS tag as a backup to Iridium & GPS
  • Acoustic Deck Box for Emergency Recovery Underwater