High Precision, Robust, Compact, & Affordable

Robust high precision positioning is a critical element for underwater operations from archaeology to reef studies, construction, security inspections and more. On this page you’ll find a variety of positioning systems that are suitable for use with ROV, autonomous vehicles, tow fish and divers alike. Tested operational environments include the open ocean, reefs, harbors, inland waters, around the hulls of ships and even the inside of refinery and water storage tanks. No matter your underwater survey task, our systems provide you with some distinct advantages over other approaches:

Very high precision: As compared to common USBL positioning systems or methods such as SmartTether, our gear provides much higher accuracy, right down to the centimeter range. And unlike DVL based and other inertial navigation or dead reckoning systems, there is zero position drift.

Robust tracks in any environment: Watch the positioning tracks of USBL systems, and you will see large outliers. Desert Star Systems draw fine tracks that allow you to map most any underwater terrain with very high confidence.

Compact size: The size of our tracking and navigation sensors is small, compatible with micro ROV, small vehicles and divers without interfering with operations.

Affordable: Even though our systems offer industry leading performance, they are also affordable. Our PILOT system for example is priced competitive with USBL systems while offering better accuracy. Our AquaMap and Southstar systems are highly versatile centimeter level survey systems, yet priced will below competitor’s ‘long baseline’ solutions.

Antarctic Pioneers

Working in Antarctica is the closest to working on a different planet one can do here on earth. And so just like an automotive development team must hit the race track and the dirt to really create a great product, the same holds true in underwater technology. For each product there is this spark of innovation or insight, a spark that rarely if ever manifests in an office or lab but is found diving with the sharks or under the hulls of giant ships, descending 17000′ to the sea floor or joining a biologists expedition to the Sea of Cortez.

Our technology works, and works for you, because at Desert Star we get out into the field, we get our hands dirty. It is because we believe the stuff we do is awesome and we can’t stop thinking about it day and night and over holidays racing through some desert while exploring a new engineering or science concept. And so, it’s simple: Because we think about it all the time, you can be assured of robust products that you don’t have to worry about!

Acoustic Positioning

AquaMap Seafloor

High-precision sea floor surveying for ROV.

Uses: Precision seafloor surveying by ROV or AUV, reef mapping, benthic transects & observations, environmental impact inspections, underwater construction, marine archaeology, harbor and security inspections, evidence searches.

Key Features: Rapid setup within minutes, deploy three or four small baseline stations, acoustic baseline self-survey, accuracy 30cm typical, variable width position traces to ‘paint the seafloor’ and assure coverage, compact equipment set, shipped in a suitcase sized Pelican case.

AquaMap Shiphull

In-water hull inspections.

Uses: In-water inspection of ship hulls using ROV, AUV or divers, security inspections, maintenance inspections.

Key Features: Position accuracy 30cm typical on side and bottom of hulls, quick setup by lowering four bottle sized baseline stations from deck, unlike DVL and inertial navigation systems, absolutely no position drift, bottom, Starboard and Port side displays, ‘painting the hull’ variable width position track to assure a hull has been completely searched. 


The ARC-1XD is an acoustic release that uses a patented release mechanism with only one moving part. Easy-to-use and a simple set up insures that you can retrieve your underwater equipment with ease. These acoustic releases can be integrated with existing equipment to provide a unique solution for specific applications. Because the mechanism does not use the conductivity of saltwater the ARC-1XD can also be used in freshwater unlike other acoustic releases.


microMARS opens the door to routine and cost effective underwater acoustic monitoring on a large scale. To date, acoustic recorders have tended to be ponderous devices in large housings crammed full of batteries and storage devices. With microMARS, these days are gone. Making use of the latest miniaturized storage, data transfer and processing technology, microMARS is the size of a ‘tall boy’, yet it packs a punch: Up to two terabytes of memory translates to 460 days of storage continuous at 25kHz sample rate, or 46 days at the recorders maximum 250kHz rate. A single ‘D’ size lithium battery is sufficient to operate the recorder for over a month at 250kHz full-blast or 140 days throttled to 25kHz. An acoustic event detector marks data segments of potential interest. With its replaceable transducer end caps, microMars can be optimized for high or low frequency sampling, and housing options are available for 300m, 1000m and 4000m depth ratings. 

PILOT System

ROV tracking from ships and boats.

Uses: Surveying and Tracking of ROV from ships, boats and docks.

Key Features: Higher accuracy than USBL systems supports survey work, easily deployed over-the-side sonar transducers, no or minimal pre-tracking setup following initial installation. 

Precision-Timed Energetic Release Capsule

The Precision Energetic Release Capsule (PERC-1) was a project developed in response to address the need for a secondary yet precise mechanism for recovering lobster traps off the coast of Australia. The PERC-1 is a small cylindrical shaped timed release that can be used with any other device as a back-up or a stand alone release. It has a precision clock that triggers its release to within 1 second (note: clock drift is approximately +/- 0.5 seconds per day). Similar to the ARC-1 we test the PERC-1 to 80lbs breaking strength, but recommend putting some safety margin in.


The SAM-1 technology was licensed by Teknologic for integration into their JSATS receiver system. JSATS are very small acoustic tags implanted in juvenile fish that transmit unique identification codes to receivers. This data allows the researcher to study residency times near the receiver array or individual receivers. The SAM-1 acoustic modems are integrated into the receivers to allow topside communication without physically recovering the receivers. Software developed by Teknologic allows the acoustic modem integrated into the receiver to constantly listen for the signal from the topside unit. Once it receives a signal the modems test the three available acoustic speeds until it establishes a reliable connection. Thereafter the topside units allow the user to poll various system parameters (e.g., battery voltage, number of detections, last detection ID, tilt, etc.). Integrating the acoustic modem into the receiver array saves valuable time and money. The system reduces on-site receiver maintenance costs and allows the user to get a snapshot of what the receiver array collected at any time.


Ultra-precision wireless positioning system.

Uses: Very high-accuracy, fast & easy-to-use next generation underwater positioning system.

Current Applications: ROV based seafloor surveying under the ice in Antarctica, unexploded ordnance mapping in inland water, refinery tank inspection by ROV, navigation component of an ROV automated control system, ship hull inspections by ROV.

Key Features: Very easy to use – place baseline stations anywhere, system auto-initializes, start tracking, precision approx. 1.5cm for ranges.