UUV buoy

With unmanned underwater vehicle capability, this device can be remotely repositioned

Sensors Environmental

Navy scientists have developed a cost-effective, remotely-controlled, unmanned underwater vehicle that can transform into a buoy.


The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially. Conventional buoys in maritime operations are used as navigation marks, hazard indicators, or for mooring.

Most standard buoys need to be transported on other vessels to be deployed. This time-consuming, personnel-heavy process can be costly.

For more dynamic uses, there is a need for deploying a buoy remotely, having it navigate to a specified location, remaining stationary, and then being remotely relocated. Navy scientists have addressed these challenges by developing a combined unmanned vehicle and buoy device that allows for relatively inexpensive deployments, recoveries, and repositioning.

Combined UAV/buoy device with a ballast tank (11), fins (12), a rudder (13), antennae (14), a deployable weight, and a changeable center of mass (16). (patent drawing)

Upon deployment, the vehicle acts as an underwater glider utilizing the ascent and descent of the device caused by changing buoyancy to generate propulsion in the water.

When the UAV/buoy arrives at its determined location, the center of mass changes by evacuation of the ballast tank and deployment of a weight that remains tethered to the device and acts an anchor.

Once the AUV/buoy is vertically oriented, its antenna may be raised above the water surface. The reverse process allows it to be relocated.

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