Design and Fabrication of a Controllable Underwater Towed Vehicle for Shallow Coral Reef Inspection

  • Ibrahim Alsalamah

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Monitoring the health status of coral reefs is a crucial activity in protecting the environment. One way is by conducting "Manta tow surveys." For a long time, these surveys were conducted by a diver holding a board being towed by a boat. In this thesis, we propose a new vehicle design that works as a platform to help conduct the "towboard" activities for underwater coral reef surveys. It utilizes paravane or depressor features which is a common tool used by fishermen to catch fish at a specified depth. The vehicle offers a compact size, modular design, and control surfaces to maneuver around and close to reef walls. The thesis describes the architecture of the overall system and its components, the design decisions, the mechanical interfaces, and a brief description of the dynamics. An experiment is conducted to validate the design and verify system performance, measuring pressure, speed, and orientation. The prototype is presented as a proof of concept.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorEric Feron (Supervisor)


  • Underwater towed systems
  • underwater robotics
  • coral reef assessment
  • coral reef survey
  • system architecture

Cite this