Autonomous underwater vehicles needed to be launched and recovered by an autonomous boat. I designed a system.

In the summer of 2017, I was hired by Hydroswarm to (amongst other projects) design and build a seafaring device that could deploy and retrieve autonomous underwater vehicles roughly the size of a football.

I employed a rack-and-pinion-driven system constructed of 6061 aluminum and powered by a high torque stepper rated at minimum IP64. These specifications ensured a long product lifespan at sea with minimum maintenance:

  • 6061 aluminum is resistant to corrosion in the presence of salt water.
  • The low number of moving components in a rack and pinion prevents salt buildup from interfering with actuation.
  • The stepper allows the system to lock in the deployed or retracted positions.
  • An IP64 rating sufficiently protects the stepper against water ingress.
  • Low-friction Delrin rollers serve as simple bearing replacements for an otherwise lubricant-volatile environment.