Underwater vehicles become dominant and precious tools for the exploration and exploitation of ocean. Korean government has supported the development of several types of underwater vehicles during last decade. Underwater technologies followed by such development enables more ambitious plans to build a large-scale system, and to develop basic equipment such as navigation sensor system and manipulator system. In this paper, we are going to introduce recent research activities on the underwater robotic vehicles including a 6,000m class deep-sea unmanned underwater vehicle, which is supported by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs of Korea.
The Korean peninsula is surrounded with ocean on its three sides and thus we have great interest in the utilization of ocean resources and in the preservation ocean environments. Along this line the Korean government has established a basic plan for ocean development named Ocean Korea 21(OK21) toward 21st century in 2000. In OK21, we have plans to develop various underwater systems for the exploration and exploitation of ocean resources and scientific research. To meet the needs of ocean exploration, several vehicles have been developed in Korea during last decade from 1986. Many electrical equipment and sensors have been purchased from abroad. Later in the middle of 90's, several AUVs have been developed using both domestic technology and foreign technology especially Russia technology. A deep-sea AUV system based on the Russia technology has been developed in 1996(Woo et al., 1999). In this stage, research activities on the navigation technology have been increased rapidly among research institutes and universities due to the importance of the navigation performance for AUVs. Also some researchers from land robotics have been involved in the study for underwater manipulator. A test-bed AUV has been developed and a heavy-duty ROV system has been designed too.