PEARL stands for Platform for Expanding AUV exploRation to Longer ranges. She is a concept for an autonomous floating servicing platform that could harvest solar energy to recharge autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and connect to new generation high-bandwidth low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations for near-real-time data transmission. PEARL is being developed at the Engineering Systems Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The current PEARL prototype (shown here) is a small-scale unit that serves as an autonomous smart data buoy. She is deployed in Pleasant Bay, MA in partnership with Pleasant Bay Community Boating. There she is constantly collecting a variety of environmental quantities about the ocean and atmosphere, such as water and air temperature, humidity, and ambient light intensity. She is completely powered by solar panels and is equipped with an Iridium satellite terminal which relays data back to shore via a satellite connection. See a video below from her deployment into Pleasant Bay on June 17, 2021.
She was previously deployed in Deep Pond, Orleans, MA from October 17, 2020 – April 15, 2021. Below is a video of her maneuvering autonomously around Deep Pond in early 2021.