A number of marine biological, geological, and archaeological applications share the need for high-resolution optical and acoustic imaging of the sea floor [Ballard et al., 2002; Greene et al., 2000; Shank et al., 2002]. In particular,there is a compelling need to conduct studies in depths beyond those considered reasonable for divers (∼50 m) down to depths at the shelf edge and continental slope (∼1000–2000 m). Some of the constraints associated with such work include the requirement to work off of small coastal vessels or fishing boats of opportunity,and the requirement for the vehicle components to be air-shippable to enable inexpensive deployments at far-flung oceanographic sites of interest.
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