Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has partnered with Saildrone, a designer and manufacturer of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), to measure and monitor Australian waters and the Southern Ocean.
The five-year project will see Saildrone’s USVs collect data about sea-surface temperature, salinity and ocean carbon and deliver it to scientists in real time.
The devices are wind and solar powered and can be deployed at sea for up to 12 months at a time. They’re also outfitted with automatic identification systems and ship avoidance systems to alert other vessels to their presence.
CSIRO will equip the drones with sensors designed to measure ocean carbon, as well as provide biomass estimates in the water column.
The ability to be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world means that Saildrones can be swiftly dispatched to measure conditions associated with events such as algal blooms and marine heat waves.
“Autonomy is a key technology for accessing the southern oceans, which are understudied due to the rough seas and the limited number of vessels that regularly pass through the region,” says Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins.
The partnership will see CSIRO manage a fleet of three Saildrones from its facility in Hobart, Tasmania.