Autonomous underwater plow and method of use

An autonomous underwater plow can include a frame, a plow assembly and a propulsion assembly. The plow assembly is fixed to the one end of the frame, while the propulsion assembly is pivotably attached to the other end. The propulsion assembly includes thrusters that are rigidly coupled to a float, and that provide a propulsion force perpendicular to the float buoyancy force. The plow sinks when placed in the water, but the float provides sufficient buoyancy so that the float end floats while the plow end is in contact with the ocean floor. This establishes a rake angle of between the frame and ocean floor. The plow requires less propulsion force for motion because part of the plow is floating, and requires less force to overcome obstacles on the ocean floor because the thrusters provides a constant horizontal propulsion force while the frame tilts to overcome the obstacle.
Inventors: 

Bret R. Thomson

Brian Shook

Steve K. Whiteside

Paul E. Wade

Robert Lee, Jr.

Ronald Allen Skala

Patent Number: 
US8360685
Patent Issue Date: 
March 1, 2013
Lab Representatives
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