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Maritime Robotics and Instrumentation Laboratory (MRIL)

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About the Maritime Robotics and Instrumentation Laboratory (MRIL)

The Maritime Robotics Laboratory at the University of Southampton aims to develop the next generation of ocean going robots. 

Robotic systems provide unrivalled opportunities to increase our understanding of the oceans. They are capable of exploring locations that are too dangerous or remote for manned vehicles.

Take a quick tour of the Maritime Robotics Lab.

Technical specification

Our labs have the following:

  • testing and calibration tank, 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4m, with side viewing ports and 1 tonne gantry crane
  • clean room, 3 x 2m, for electronics and optical assembly and planned upgrade for laser interlock
  • 2 up-box 3D printers for rapid prototyping
  • motion capture systems for on-land and in-water robotic experiments
  • 2 reconfigurable working bays with storage modules
  • direct car access with garage
  • chemicals and hazardous materials storage cabinet

Ocean deployable platforms and sensors

  • Smarty200: 200m depth-rated modified Sparus II AUV (Iqua robotics) equipped with seafloor imaging and laser scanning (Voyis RECON), DVL/INS (Sonardyne Sprintnav-mini), USBL (Sonardyne AVTrack Nano) and surface iridium. Platform endurance about 10 hours. Dimensions L2.0 x 0.3 x 0.3, weight 70kg. 
  • Driftcam “Floaty McFloatface:” 200m depth rated Lagrangian Imaging Floats capable of strobe illuminated stereo-photogrametry and constant altitude keeping over rugged terrains and dedicated software to predict drifts based on global current estimates. Equipped with USBL (Sonardyne AVTrack Nano), and  iridium on separate trickle charged power source. Platform endurance about 10 days with iridium transmission up to 1 year. Dimensions L1.2 x 0.3 x 1.2, weight 70kg.
  • Ecosub5μ x 5: 500m depth rated Micro AUVs. 
  • Hyball2020: Modified Hyball ROV with dual camera (downward and diagonal down) and optional manipulator. Modified with modern electronics, including onboard processing and topside interface via ethernet and controll using gaming controller. Powered using standard 13 amp wall socket via 300m tether.
  • CCat3: ASV (L3 Harris, formerly ASV Global), 3m long ASV weight 320kg. 3.5 knot cruising speed and 6 to 8 hours endurance. 
  • BioCam x 2: 4000m depth rated high resolution stereo camera system with dual LED strobes and dual lasers for seafloor 3D visual mapping. Developed as part of the NERC Oceanids programme together with Sonardyne International Ltd. Main camera unit dimensions L50 x B15 x H31.2cm, weight 33kg. Previously mounted on Autosub6000 and ALR6000 (a.k.a. Boaty Mcboatface). 
  • Micro-ranger: USBL topside (Sonardyne) for tracking submersibles at up to 995m range. 

Platforms for education

  • Smarty ASV: Small ASV with 4 vectored thrusters capable of dynamic positioning using Qualysis and AR tag location feeds. Equipped with 3 axis IMU compass, endurance 3 hours.
  • Smarty mooring: Small moored platform equipped with load-cell for monitoring tension on mooring lines attached to it. Equipped with internal compass, endurance 5 hours.
  • SmartCat x 5: Small differential thrust actuated catamarans used for teaching on “Maritime Robotics”. Equipped with 3 axis IMU and parsing position information using Qualysis and AR tag location feeds, endurance 2 hours.
  • WheelySmart x 5: Small wheeled robots used for teaching on “Intelligent Mobile Robotics”. Equipped with 3 axis IMU and parsing position information using AR tag location feeds. Equipped with 2D lidar for use in SLAM, endurance 3 hours.


Contact us

We welcome your email enquiries.
Building 9, Room 1047Highfield CampusUniversity of SouthamptonSouthampton, SO17 1 BJUnited Kingdom