Heralded as the “world’s most advanced autonomous research vehicle (ARV)”, Saildrone Surveyor completed its maiden voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu on July 8, 2021. Unlike common ARVs, Saildrone Surveyor is a significantly larger vehicle designed for deep-ocean mapping. During its28-day voyage, the craft sailed 2,250 nautical miles and mapped 6,400 square nautical miles of ocean floor.
Measuring 72 feet in length and weighing 14 tons, Saildrone Surveyor relies on renewable wind and solar energy as a primary power source. Along with an array of intricate acoustic instruments, its sensors scan underwater ecosystems and map the seafloor in high resolution to a depth of 23,000 feet.
A research team from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) calibrates and assesses multibeam data streamed from the Saildrone Surveyor. Director for the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Larry Mayer says, “The data quality from the Surveyor is of very high quality, as good as anything we have seen from a ship. Due to the wind-powered nature of the vehicle, it is very quiet, and this enables the very accurate acoustic measurements needed to map to these depths.”
As a result of its successful maiden voyage, Saildrone, Inc. is set to build a fleet of Surveyors. With over 80% of Earth’s oceans remaining unmapped, Saildrone intends to map them completely with the next 10 years.
Ready to dive deep into ocean research but need deeper data and details? If so, pay a visit to Saildrone.