The autonomous benthic crawler TRAMPER was developed and built within the HGF Alliance ROBEX. It consists of caterpillar drives, syntactic foam flotation devices, a large battery, a ballast release system and the scientific payload. The prototype system carries a microprofiler system for measuring oxygen gradients in the sediment and a high-resolution still camera to document the probed area. TRAMPER is designed to conduct these measurements for one year at max. 6000 m water depth. The main focus is on temporal (not spatial) patterns in oxygen gradients. Therefore TRAMPER is neither fast nor does it travel large distances. The system is optimized for low power consumption, because already one third of the battery capacity gets lost within one year due to the self-discharge of the battery in -1.75°C bottom waters of the deep Arctic Ocean.

TRAMPER can be deployed with pin-point accuracy by means of a video-controlled cabled launching system. After the deployment, TRAMPER repeats several cycles of crawling to an undisturbed spot at the seafloor, executing oxygen measurements, and falling into a sleeping to safe energy. When the ice conditions allow the recovery of the system, the ballast weight is released by an acoustic signal and TRAMPER will ascend due to its positive buoyancy. In bad visibility, the system could easily be tracked by means of a satellite beacon and, in closer vicinity, by a VHF direction finder.

  • Specifications

Dimensions: 1.5 m (L); 1.26 m (W); 1.12 m (H)

Weight in Air: 653 kg (Volume 605.5 L)

Weight in Water: 39 kg @21 psu/20°C/0 m, 19 kg @35 psu/2°C/4150 m

Drop-Weight: 100 kg (12.7 L) Steel Plates = 86 kg Lift -> 0.45 m/s Ascend-Speed

Max. Driving-Speed: 13 m/min.

Battery Power: 32.4 V 5.7 kWh (@2°C/1 yr) 9S19p Li-SOCl2 Primary Cells LSH20

Depth Rating: 6000 m

  • Navigation and Recovery

Acoustic Transponder: IXBLUE Oceano RT 2500S

Argos Beacon: Xeos XMA-11K

VHF Beacon: Xeos XMB-11K

Visual Obstacle Avoidance: Smart-Camera Cognex InSight Micro 1020

  • Scientific Payload

Profiler with 18 Oxygen-Sensors PyroScience OSB430 and Piccolo OEM Modules

Reference Oxygen Optode Aanderaa 4330

DSLR Nikon D300S

LED-Light DeepSea Power & Light Sphere 3150

Modular Low-Power Control System MPI-Bus


Contact: N. Becker, F. Wenzhöfer


A sketch of the vehicle could be found here



Wenzhöfer, F., Lemburg, J., Hofbauer, M., Lehmenhecker, S., Färber, P. (2016): TRAMPER - An autonomous crawler for long-term benthic oxygen flux studies in remote deep sea ecosystems , OCEANS 2016 MTS/IEEE Monterey, doi: 10.1109/OCEANS.2016.776121.