An ocean drone, autonomous and uncrewed, completed its maiden voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu; and will arrive to Hawaii this Thursday, using green energy as its main source of power, the company that manufactured it, Saildrone Inc., announced.
Firstly, the autonomous vehicle is called Saildrone Surveyor, and it is a new, top-notch technology vehicle, optimized for deep-ocean mapping. During the 28-day voyage, the Saildrone Surveyor sailed 2,250 nautical miles and mapped 6,400 square nautical miles of seafloor.
Secondly, the primary source of the ocean drone vehicle was renewable energy, as the vehicle has solar panels attached to it that allows it to operate. In fact, the Saildrone Surveyor is the only vehicle in the world capable of long-endurance, uncrewed ocean mapping operations.
Thirdly, the data it collects will help address issues impacting our world including climate change, offshore renewable energy, natural resource management, and maritime safety.
Moreover, the ocean drone measures 72 feet long (22 m) and weights 14 tons; it also carries a sophisticated array of acoustic instruments, normally carried by large, manned survey ships.
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Ocean drone with security, defense, and offshore energy applications
In addition, the Surveyor’s sensors interrogate the water column looking at underwater ecosystems and map the seafloor in high resolution to a depth of 23,000 feet (7,000 m).
Furthermore, the whole data that it collected and the vessel itself has been reviewed and calibrated by an external team; from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), which normally calibrates large government survey vessels. About its quality, Larry Mayer, director for the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, said. “The data quality from the Surveyor is of very high quality, as good as anything we have seen from a ship.”
He also remarked. “Due to the solar and wind-powered nature of the vehicle, it is very quiet; and this enables the very accurate acoustic measurements needed to map to these depths.” Experts agree on the fact that the Saildrone Surveyor represents a paradigm shift in the cost of ocean access; performing the same job as a survey ship, but at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint.
On the other hand, Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO, said. “We have solved the challenge of reliable long-range, large-payload remote maritime operations. Offshore survey can now be accomplished without a large ship and crew.”
Finally, he remarked. “I am excited to apply Saildrone Surveyor technology to other markets normally reserved for large ships; such as homeland security and also defense applications. The implications of a low-carbon solution to these critical maritime missions are also significant.”