Icefin is a small, under-ice, robotic oceanographer

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Robotic Oceanographer

Icefin is a hybrid remote or autonomous underwater vehicle (ROV/AUV) that is both modular and field-portable; it is essentially a small, long-range, deep-water, under-ice, robotic oceanographer.

Icefin lab

Primary Capability

Icefin aims to characterize sub-ice environments using sonar, chemical, and biological sensors to explore ice and water conditions around and beneath ice shelves.

Our Goal

Through Icefin, we’re able to simultaneously explore Earth and develop the technology we need to one day explore other oceans in our solar system.


Icefin light on underwater

Icefin Robot

What's great about Icefin

Icefin is hybrid remote or autonomous underwater vehicle (ROV/AUV) that is essentially a small, long-range, deep-water, under-ice, robotic oceanographer. This illustration shows the yellow and black Icefin vehicle, which is long and narrow, similar to the shape of a pencil.

Custom Missions

Icefin’s modules can be swapped or rotated for each mission, to point sensors either up at overhead ice or down towards the seafloor.

Modular Design

Icefin's modular design offers increased mission flexibility, capability, and operational simplicity, relative to traditional AUV/ROVs.

Slim Profile

Icefin is uniquely designed to fit through narrow ice shelf boreholes while still carrying a full suite of oceanographic sensors​

Vehicle Stats

Depth: 1 km
Weight: 130 kg
Diameter: 23 cm
Length: 3.5 m
Range: 3.5 km
Fully holonomic five degrees of freedom

Science & Navigation Instrumentation

HD cameras, with laser ranging & scaling
Sonar Systems
Forward-looking wide angle Sonar
Sidescan for seafloor imaging
Doppler Velocity Log / Acoustic
Doppler Current Profiling
Single beam altimeter
Salinity & Temperature (CT)
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) pH/ORP
Colored & fluorescent Dissolved Organics (CDOM/fDOM)

Where You Can Find Icefin:


Collaborative monitoring of the Thwaites ice shelf


Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe


The Oceans Across Space and Time Project


Icefin was developed first as a prototype under PI Schmidt’s startup funds in the College of Science at Georgia Tech, and is now located at Cornell University. Since 2016, Icefin has been fully developed by the Planetary Habitability and Technology team featured on this page. Funds for development of the vehicle have come from NASA and NSF grants lead by Schmidt and field research with the vehicle has been funded by NASA, NSF, Antarctica New Zealand, the Marsden program, and Cornell University.