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Experience the thrills and defeats of an authentic deep sea adventure as you immerse yourself in the CATALYST 2 Mission Log. More>>

Waitt Institute

The Waitt Institute is a non-profit research organization that serves as an exploration catalyst, enabling scientific pioneers to transform the ways in which discoveries are made. More »



Innovative technologies and inspired collaborations…

Established in 2006 by the Waitt Institute and its founder and president, Ted Waitt, the CATALYST Program is designed to accelerate deep‐sea exploration, cutting‐edge scientific research and sustainable ocean policy through innovative technologies and inspired collaborations.

The Waitt Institute manages all aspects of the CATALYST Program, including establishing partnerships, prioritizing future projects, directing expedition implementation and serving as expedition leader.


Ted Waitt discusses our approach…

CATALYST Partners/Research Vessel
Representing a major milestone in marshaling public and private forces to explore and understand our oceans, the CATALYST Program brings together world-renown scientific organizations for maximum collaboration.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI): Scientific and technical expertise. The Mission was conducted aboard HBOI’s Research Vessel Seward Johnson.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI): Design, engineering and operation of two 6000-meter REMUS Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).

Photograph by Ian Kellett

One of the Waitt Institute's Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)...

Photograph by Ian Kellett

The Waitt Institute Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) maneuvers easily in the waves.

The R/V Seward Johnson underway / © Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

The R/V Seward Johnson underway / © Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

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CATALYST Technology

Innovative, efficient and versatile with no crew or cables…

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
The Waitt Institute makes use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) in order to navigate underwater without a human crew onboard and without cables connecting it to a research vessel at the sea surface.

CATALYST REMUS 6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
The Waitt Institute owns and operates two REMUS 6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to support its CATALYST Program. This innovative and efficient technology can be used for numerous exploration and mapping purposes, including marine conservation, ocean health studies, geological charting and archaeological investigation.

Advantages of the AUVs

Ted Waitt discusses the benefits of using AUV technology.

REMUS AUVs can be configured to include a wide array of sensors depending upon expedition requirements. They can be used for hydrographic surveys, environmental monitoring, debris field mapping, search operations, fishery operations, scientific sampling and mapping. As versatile research tools, the AUVs also can be outfitted with dual frequency side‐scan sonar, sub‐bottom profilers, conductivity/temperature/depth sensors, pressure sensors, acoustic modems, fluorometers and digital still cameras.


More on how the AUVs work…

The REMUS 6000 AUV was designed under a cooperative program involving the Naval Oceanographic Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in support of deep‐water autonomous operations. The AUV continues to be developed at the WHOI Oceanographic Systems Laboratory. Hydroid, Inc. of Pocasset, Mass., now manufactures the vehicles.

Vehicle in cart

Locked in LARS


AUV Specifications

REMUS 6000 navigation, communication, survey instruments and structure…

+ Click to enlarge image

+ Click image to enlarge

CATALYST AUV Specifications

Vehicle Diameter: 71 cm/28 in

Vehicle Length: 3.84 m/12.6 ft

Weight in Air: 862 kg/1900 lbs

Max Operating Depth: 6000 meters/19,685 ft/3.7 miles

Energy: 11 kWh rechargeable Li-ion battery pack

Endurance: Mission duration of up to 22 hours

Propulsion: Direct drive DC brushless motor to an open 2-bladed propeller

Velocity Range: Up to 2.6 m/s (5 knots)

Control: 2 coupled yaw and pitch fins; altitude, depth, yo-yo, and track-line

Tracking: Emergency transponder, mission abort, ascent weight drop, Iridium, GPS

Communications: Acoustic modem, Iridium, 802.11B Wi-Fi


Inertial Navigation Unit (INU)
Consists of accelerometers and gyros which measure the vehicle’s movement in three directions (surge, sway, heave), and three rotations (roll, pitch, yaw), just like an airplane or a rocket to determine the vehicle’s velocity and current mission travel distance.

Integrates data from other instruments to calculate a “best estimate” of the vehicle’s actual location.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)
Uses pulses of sound bounced off of the seafloor to determine the vehicle’s altitude and ground speed.

Pencil-Beam Sonar Collision Avoidance System
Uses pulses of sound sent in the direction the vehicle is headed that bounce off of obstacles in its way, determining the need for evasive action to maneuver around an obstacle.


Upper and Lower Long Baseline Transducers
Communicates through “pings” with pre-laid Deep Ocean Transponders (DOTs) to determine the vehicle’s location relative to its pre-programmed route.

Enables shipboard ops to send and receive data from the vehicle via multiple pulses similar to morse code.

Allows for clear communications in any vehicle position via either the upper or lower instrument.

Acoustic Modem Transducer
Enables shipboard ops to send data to the vehicle via multiple pulses similar to morse code.

GPS/Iridium/Wi-Fi Antenna
Consists of a 3-way antenna that allows the vehicle, when at the surface, to determine its position using GPS.

Connects the vehicle’s system to the shipboard computer via a WiFi connection, or Iridium satellite phone connection.

Enables the vehicle to “phone home” with its location, if it becomes lost.


Dual-frequency Side-Scan Sonar
Consists of two arrays of transducers (underwater speaker/microphones) that look out and down on either side of the AUV.

Illuminates the seafloor via sound waves, using “pings” to assemble a 2D image of the seafloor and the objects resting on it.

Custom Digital Camera w/Strobe Light
Snaps digital photographs when the vehicle is within 10 meters of the seafloor, synced with strobe light just like a flash bulb on a typical consumer camera.

Tags photos with position and time and stores them in an onboard hard drive, download-able at the surface.

Multibeam Profiling Sonar Consists of multiple sonar beams which “ping” the seafloor at different angles, creating a 3D image of its contours and shape.

Sub-Bottom Profiling Sonar
Uses a powerful sound beam to look at what’s buried under the sediment on the seafloor.

Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth Sensor (CTD)
Measures conductivity (the saltiness of the water), water temperature, and vehicle depth.


Vehicle Frame and Foam Hull
The titanium internal spine (called a strongback) provides structural support and a frame to which all the instruments, motors and electronics are secured in water-tight, pressure-resistant metal cans.

The outside hull consists of large blocks of syntactic foam (in yellow) that provide flotation, are impenetrable by water and do not crush at depth under extreme pressures.

Lifting Bail
Provides a safe structural lifting point for pulling the vehicle out of the water.

Propulsion/Propeller Shaft
Provides precision thrust and direction capability to steer the vehicle.

Electronics and Battery Compartment
Holds the vehicle computer and its lithium-ion batteries that provide a rechargeable, lightweight and efficient power source.

Recovery Strobe Light
Supplies a bright, blinking white light for nighttime vehicle recovery operations.

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Florida Straits, 2008

The Waitt Institute’s CATALYST 1 Mission was conducted in part to perform sea trials for the Institute’s new REMUS 6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), and also to give the REMUS rapid-response team an opportunity to work together and coordinate operations under at-sea conditions.

Under the direction of principle investigator John Reed, of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, CATALYST 1 used the AUVs to create the first‐ever high definition sidescan sonar maps of deep‐water Lophelia and Oculina coral reefs off the coast of eastern Florida.

Side scan sonar image from Catalyst One

Sidescan sonar mosaic of the 'Triceratops' pinnacles. The pinnacle to the right was located earlier using the ship's fathometer. The pinnacle to the left was discovered during the Waitt Institute’s CATALYST 1 expedition using their Hydroid-built REMUS 6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.

Multibeam Sonar from Catalyst 1

Multibeam sonar mosaic of the three pinnacles, nicknamed 'Triceratops.' Multibeam sonar is more downward looking than sidescan sonar and gives finer detail about the bottom. For example, the height of a feature can be more accurately determined using multibeam data.



Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

The Waitt Institute has partnered with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to bring their ocean exploration expertise and resources to the first two CATALYST expeditions in the form of logistics and science plan development, as well as to charter their Research Vessel Seward Johnson as the first CATALYST launch vessel for the Institute’s two Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).

About HBOI
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (Harbor Branch), a research institute of Florida Atlantic University carries out oceanographic research in Florida’s waters and around the world. The research institute focuses on aquaculture, drug discovery from marine organisms, ocean engineering, marine ecosystem health and ocean exploration. Harbor Branch is located on the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce on Florida’s central east coast and is home to some of the world’s leading ocean science laboratories. Harbor Branch provides a unique combination of specialized capabilities, allowing for exploration of almost every aspect of the world’s oceans.

HBOI Mission
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University (HBOI) is comprised of 140 scientists, engineers, mariners and support personnel, whose mission is Ocean Science for a Better WorldTM.

In the deep sea, our ship and research submersibles enable us to explore and work in depths as great as 3,000 feet. Our scientists study and unravel the ocean’s mysteries and identify unique organisms whose chemical components are evaluated for their disease-fighting potential.

Closer to our coastlines, we study deep and shallow coral reefs, sea grasses and marine mammals to see how these communities are affected by human impacts.

On land, our aquaculture team works on new ways to farm seafood, and our engineers support research and exploration missions with custom-designed platforms, vehicles, tools and instruments.

In the classroom, our specialized graduate and undergraduate programs in marine science and biotechnology give students a chance to augment textbook learning with the resources of a leading oceanographic institute.

Web Resources

Main Website

Ongoing Expeditions



Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) developed and engineered the original REMUS autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and the Waitt Institute has provided support for an AUV operations team based at Woods Hole, possessing the expertise to conduct CATALYST AUV operations anywhere in the world.

About WHOI
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the world’s largest, private nonprofit ocean research, engineering and education organization and is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society. The Institution’s shore-based laboratories are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and on the 200-acre Quissett Campus one-and one-half miles away.

More than 1000 research projects are underway at the Institution at any given time as WHOI staff work with colleagues around the world at the forefront of oceanographic investigations. WHOI is organized into five scientific departments: Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering, Biology, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry, Geology & Geophysics and Physical Oceanography—plus a Marine Policy Center. In 2000, it established four interdisciplinary institutes: the Coastal Ocean Institute, the Deep Ocean Exploration Institute, the Ocean Life Institute and the Ocean and Climate Change Institute.

The Institution operates a regional class and two global class research vessels, as well as a smaller ship for coastal research. A leader in the development of deep-sea exploration vehicles and home to the National Deep Submergence Facility, WHOI operates Alvin, the nation’s deepest diving manned submersible, the ROV Jason, and the newly-developed Sentry for the U.S. oceanographic community. In addition, WHOI personnel design and operate a suite of REMUS vehicles (Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS), autonomous underwater vehicles used for oceanographic surveys and environmental monitoring.

Throughout its history, WHOI investigators have made seminal discoveries about the ocean that have contributed to improving the environment, human health, commerce, national security and the quality of life for current and future generations.

WHOI Mission Statement
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to research and education to advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society.

Main Website