Polar marine research is a key to understanding of processes of the sea ecosystem and the Earth climate change. They are also of a great economic and defense importance. However, vast ice covers and ice thickness make it difficult to carry out research in such regions. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are able to provide essential help in conducting this research. The paper deals with: the overview of development, role and technical capabilities of AUVs, used for marine research in ice environments.