Subsurface Vehicles

It’s not difficult to appreciate the beauty, vastness, and intrigue of the Great Lakes from the surface. But it takes a subsurface dive to truly begin to unravel the mysteries they hold. With the Great Lakes Research Center’s fleet of subsurface vehicles, researchers can do so much more than simply scratch the surface; they dive 1,000 feet to the bottom of the lakes, explore underwater topography, and even map subsurface features in three dimensions.

The GLRC’s subsurface fleet consists of four vehicles—each with its own specialties and cutting-edge technologies.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)

ROVs let researchers peek below the surface—often many hundreds of feet—without ever leaving the shore or their research vessel. ROVs are controlled by an operator who dictates the vehicle’s movements and functions remotely.

Outland 1000

The Center maintains and operates two Outland 1000 ROVs. These vehicles can dive to depths of more than 1,000 feet. Both are fully equipped with a collection of sampling tools, including:

  • Scanning imaging sonar
  • One-function articulated arm for selective sampling
  • Two color (and one black-and-white) low-light video cameras
  • Flood lights

The Outland 1000 ROVs are designed for light-to-medium work tasks and selective sampling. One vehicle, with 1,000 feet of tether, is designated for use on the RV Agassiz while the other is available for remote applications and carries a 500-foot retractable cable reel. An additional 1,000-foot cable is also available for very deep dives.

Fully Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)

AUVs offer the ability to survey, explore, and collect data without requiring input from an operator. By controlling their movement themselves, AUVs give researchers a new way to study the Great Lakes—with no need for human control.


The IVER 3 is truly a first-of-its-kind AUV, proudly displaying serial number 001 to confirm it. With this brand-new equipment, GLRC researchers have access to a host of new technologies, including:

  • High-resolution, downward-looking video/still digital camera
  • LED lighting
  • EdgeTech 2205 dual-frequency side scan sonar with simultaneous interferometric swath bathymetry
  • Teledyne RDI Explorer Doppler Velocity Log with Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler capability
  • Forward looking obstacle avoidance sonar

The IVER 3’s sonar system uses a broad range of EdgeTech side-scan sonar frequencies (600 and 1,600 kHz), making it a very versatile sonar imaging system. The ultra-high-resolution EdgeTech sonar provides unrivaled imaging resolution and full three-dimensional mapping capabilities.

IVER 3’s more-than-300-foot-depth diving capabilities coupled with its 12 hours of operating time provides unsurpassed underwater survey capabilities to Center researchers—and a winning combination for the Great Lakes.

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To Protect and Preserve

The IVER 3 allows researchers to study underwater ecosystems to protect and preserve Earth's hydrosphere.