This paper presents the joint research project “SMIS” with focus on the requirements and the design of the seabed station. A major issue for all autonomous subsea systems is the problem of limited battery capacity due to design boundary conditions. SMIS counteracts this by deploying an autonomous power-carrying vehicle, similar to a mobile petrol station, to extend the operation time for the AUVs.

The demands of the autonomous seabed station include the unguided submerge through 6000 m water column, a safe landing on suitable ground without excessive power consumption and a reliable docking mechanism for power transmission to AUVs on the sea floor. Moreover, the communication between the SMIS vehicle fleet for georeference and path guidance during the AUV operation is essential. A modular design also allows operation in ROV mode, which expands the field of application.

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