The Yellowfin is a single man portable micro-UUV which weighs less than 17lbs. The mission for the Yellowfin is to conduct autonomous homogeneous collaborative operations. The system uses multi-agent collaborative technologies to autonomously control and coordinate multiple UUVs.

The intended design of Yellowfin is to supply a high baseline of integrated functionality while still being adaptable to a wide range of mission-specific requirements. This purpose has lead to a focus on designing Yellowfin to be modular and has also dictated some of the high-level design specifications. In order to keep cost and development time as low as possible while maintaining the quantity and quality of vehicle features along with system interoperability, the design of Yellowfin adopted the use of COTS (Commercial, off-the-shelf) components, open-source software, and industry standards whenever feasible. The vehicle itself was designed through an iterative process where one prototype was designed, built, and tested followed by several additional vehicles designed using the lessons learned from the first. The software design has also progressed in stages with the results of the implementation motivating additional cycles of design work.

Design Goals

The requirements can be categorized into two primary components:

Mission requirements

These are specific to the mission Yellowfin will perform.  While Yellowfin should be capable of performing a diverse category of missions, there is still a core set of features, which are common requirements to most UUV missions.

  • Control, navigation, and collaborative behaviors
  • Validation through real and simulated testing
  • Suitable for multiple applications, including oceanographic and military research

Vehicle requirements

These are specific to the Yellowfin vehicle.  Particular values for performance specifications were determined by looking at the requirements for some specific applications and also chosen to meet or exceed the capabilities of platforms similar to Yellowfin.

  • Operating speed > 2 knots
  • Operating duration > 10 hours
  • Max weight < 17 lb
  • Cost < $30K
  • Able to accommodate various sensor and communication payloads


  • WHOI MicroModem Acoustic Modem
  • 900 MHz Radio
  • WiFi


  • BlueView P900 Forward Looking Sonar
  • GPS Antenna / Receiver
  • Digital Compass
  • Pressure / Depth Sensor
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)