There is a distinct need for an improved method for accurate and inexpensive deployment and retrieval of seabed sensors and equipment. The AutoDrop will be hydro dynamically designed in order to glide through the water experiencing a minimum of drag. The rudders will maintain stability and change the direction if desired. It is important that the time used by the AutoDrop to travel from the surface to the seabed is kept at a minimum to maximize accuracy. A short time descending requires a heavy weight load attached to the unit, while releasing the weight load should lead to high degree of buoyancy to enable rapid ascent.
Manner of operation: Prior to deployment operation, the units are programmed with a destination on the seabed and a location on the surface. The unit uses the surface location as a reference in order to navigate to the target area. As the unit is dropped into the water, it gains momentum until terminal velocity is reached. The navigation system calculates the position of the unit relative to the target and, if necessary, adjusts the rudders to change direction. A gentle landing further increases the chances of a successful deployment. The sensors transported down to the seabed by the AutoDrop units perform their task over a defined time period. When it is time to ascend, either dictated by a programmed time limit or by a broadcasted signal from top side, the AutoDrop units release their weight load or in other ways change their buoyancy. The buoyancy causes the units to ascend towards the surface. The navigation system will be applied on the way up and may be programmed to form clusters on the surface, thus simplifying the retrieval process. Clusters are easy to form by sending a number of units to the same surface location. At surface the AutoDrop units will have the possibility to radio its GPS coordinates to a service vessel.