Demonstrating Autonomous Deep Ocean Mapping

The first autonomous multibeam mapping mission from San Francisco to Honolulu to contribute data to Seabed 2030.

6,400 sq nm

Seafloor area mapped

2,250 nm

Distance traveled


Days at sea

Access Data Set


Detailed ocean mapping is essential for navigation, telecommunications, and offshore energy. Ocean mapping also provides the baseline information required to model and understand the potential impacts of climate change on our coastal communities—estimations of sea level rise, improvements to coastal resiliency, and forecasts of tropical storm intensity all depend on accurate knowledge of the seafloor.

After several successful mapping missions off the coast of California demonstrating mapping capabilities that meet or exceed International Hydrographic Organization standards, the Surveyor was deployed for its first ocean crossing to further test its systems and capabilities. The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project funded the collection of new seafloor mapping data during the Hawaii mission. Seabed 2030 aims to map the global ocean floor in high resolution by 2030.


The North Pacific between San Francisco and Hawaii is an area of ocean known to have extensive seamounts and fracture zones. During the 28-day voyage to Hawaii, the Saildrone Surveyor sailed 2,250 nautical miles and mapped 6,400 square nautical miles of seafloor. The Surveyor sailed along a never-before-mapped route, revealing previously unknown details about the Pacific Ocean seafloor, which will make the area safer for maritime activity.

After additional mapping around Oahu, the vehicle returned to San Francisco, mapping another large swath of North Pacific seafloor.

“The data quality from the surveyor is of very high quality, and 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.”

Larry Mayer

Director for the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM)

Scientific Papers

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