This article provides a general overview of the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) research thrusts being pursued within the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PeRL) at the University of Michigan. Founded in 2007, PeRL's research centers on improving AUV autonomy via algorithmic advancements in environmentally based perceptual feedback for real-time mapping, navigation, and control. Our three major research areas are (1) real-time visual simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), (2) cooperative multi-vehicle navigation, and (3) perceptiondriven control. Pursuant to these research objectives, PeRL has developed a new multi-AUV SLAM testbed based upon a modified Ocean-Server Iver2 AUV platform. PeRL upgraded the vehicles with additional navigation and perceptual sensors for underwater SLAM research. In this article, we detail our testbed development, provide an overview of our major research thrusts, and put into context how our modified AUV testbed enables experimental real-world validation of these algorithms.