The AUV Lab at MIT Sea Grant was created in 1989 to develop an underwater vehicle that was both highly capable and cost-effective. Several families of vehicles were developed, including the Odyssey class, which became the foundation of research spin-off Bluefin Robotics.

Since then, the AUV Lab has developed many other autonomous underwater and surface vehicles. From the Reef Explorer, a remotely controlled hybrid ROV/AUV underwater vehicle, to the Remote Explorer (REx 4), a 5 meter, fully unmanned autonomous vessel. The AUV Lab builds partnerships with other institutions and commercial entities, including a multi-year collaboration with Mercury Marine developing a fully autonomous 8-meter Boston Whaler, “RoboWhaler“.

Through MIT Sea Grant, the AUV Lab is actively engaged in the MIT community and has many ongoing projects with students from the undergraduate to post-doc level. The lab also has facilities in the Marine Autonomy Bay at the MIT Sailing Pavilion on the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay are also accessible, providing both inner harbor and open ocean environments to test vehicles and algorithms.

Odyssey-class vessel developed at the AUV Lab

An MIT undergraduate student takes the wheel with MIT Sea Grant Visiting Artist Keith Ellenbogen and AUV Lab Research Engineer Michael Sacarny.


Robust and low-cost perception technologies for the marine environment:

  • Multimodal Sensor Fusion: Creating actionable data through fusing sensors such as camera, infrared, radar, and lidar
  • Machine Vision: Developing machine learning models to detect and classify objects of interest in the marine environment
  • Marine Datasets: Creating coordinated marine datasets for understanding marine autonomy and perception


As an extension of the AUV Lab’s previous underwater vehicles work, the team has engaged in a project to develop advanced swarm algorithms and capabilities.


This project revolves around biomimetics in the design of an A-sized AUV. The goal is to develop an AUV with a morphing fin similar to a tuna for enhanced maneuverability.


Project Morpheus

The AUV Lab is working with Lockheed Martin to enhance their Expendable Mobile ASW Training Target (EMATT) submarine vessel.

In addition to the development of algorithms supporting heterogeneous marine robot swarm formation and teaming, the vessel itself is being redesigned for more efficient operations and higher maneuverability. In keeping with the strong emphasis on biomimetics within MIT Sea Grant, the AUV Lab will use tuna-inspired morphing fins to achieve better agility. Open water testing of preliminary designs on the Charles River have been encouraging.

Recovering the EMATT after testing on the Charles River

Ballasting the EMATT in the MIT Sea Grant teaching tank

Open-water trials of the EMATT in the Charles River


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Convergence. Acceleration. Impact. Workshop Details: Session 1: October 5, 2020 (12 - 2:30 p.m. ET) Session 2: October 7, 2020 (12 - 3:30 p.m. ET) Session 3: October 9, 2020 (12 - 1 p.m. ET) >> Conference Website: >>…
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Convergence. Acceleration. Impact.

Workshop Details:
October 2, 2020/by Lily Keyes