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Docking Stations for Net-Crawling Underwater Vehicles in Aquaculture Net Pens


With growing demand for farmed fish, the aquaculture industry is expanding. In order to explore more exposed sites while ensuring employee health and safety, the use of underwater vehicles and autonomous operations is increasing. Among the operations most relevant for the use of underwater vehicles are biofouling mitigation and removal from nets of sea cages. These operations are currently carried out by remotely operated vehicles, and the aim is to realize such tasks using tether-less, autonomous underwater vehicles. However, there are several challenges that need to be overcome, such as providing periodic data transfer and charging through a docking station. Unfortunately, there exists no commercially available docking station for vehicles in net pens today that allows for autonomous docking, data transfer, or charging. This paper presents a literature review on underwater docking station technologies on the market and within the scientific community with an overall goal to identify their applicability for net pens at aquaculture sites. By deriving minimum requirements and specifications for a docking station to be used in a net pen, a conceptual design of a docking station for a tether-less, net-crawling cleaning robot was developed. The paper concludes by proposing a design solution for a docking station that can address the challenge of utilizing autonomous underwater vehicle operations in net pens.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 296392




  • SINTEF Ocean / Aquaculture



Published in





IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

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