Saildrone launches 22m autonomous vessel

Saildrone has launched a 22m version of its uncrewed surface vehicles, known as saildrones. Powered by wind and solar energy, the company says its saildrones are capable of extreme-duration missions of up to 12 months in the open ocean. This latest and largest version, the first in the Surveyor class of USVs, is called the Saildrone Surveyor, and carries sonar equipment capable of seafloor mapping down to 7,000m.

Coinciding with the start of the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the launch of the Saildrone Surveyor presents a shift in enhanced seabed mapping, which is currently done with manned ships. The Surveyor, uncrewed and powering its sensor suite by harvesting renewable energy, delivers an equivalent survey capability, but at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint of a traditional survey ship.

“We are excited to see the launch of the Saildrone Surveyor,” says Alan Leonardi, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of ocean exploration and research. “NOAA is supporting the development and testing of this new uncrewed system because we are confident it will expand the capability of our existing fleet of ships to help us accelerate in a cost-effective way our mission to map, characterise and explore our nation’s deep ocean territory, monitor valuable fisheries and other marine resources, and provide information to unleash the potential of our nation’s Blue Economy.”

“The launch of the Surveyor is a huge step up, not just for Saildrone’s data services but for the capabilities of uncrewed systems in our oceans,” says Richard Jenkins, founder & CEO of Saildrone. “For the first time, a scalable solution now exists to map our planet within our lifetime, at an affordable cost.”

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