Atlantic to Mediterranean Mission

The first mission by an autonomous vehicle from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, collecting environmental and carbon data for climate science.



operation area

Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea

deployment location

Canary Islands


The mission was a public-private partnership between Saildrone and 12 oceanographic research institutions and universities from seven countries. The mission was conducted in two phases: Phase 1 was an eddy survey near Cabo Verde led by the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR) based in Kiel, Germany, and Phase 2 focused on cross-calibration of CO2 measurements at fixed ocean stations led by the Integrated Carbon Observation System, Ocean Thematic Center (ICOS OTC) based in Bergen, Norway.


The Mediterranean Sea is considered to be a small-scale ocean in which many of the processes found throughout the world’s oceans occur, making it especially interesting for physical, climatic, and environmental studies. It is a highly productive region, much more so than anticipated, requiring a couple of service stops throughout the mission, despite the use of the latest anti-biofouling technology. The mission took nine months from start to finish and will serve as a blueprint for how public and private institutions between nations can work together to advance ocean observations.

"We’re grateful and happy for the cooperation with Saildrone. The team was very helpful and solutions-oriented, which was important for such a long-lasting mission as ATL2MED. We were also quite impressed by the amount of effort they put into piloting the saildrones—do they ever sleep?!"

Dr. Ingunn Skjelvan, a research scientist at NORCE Norwegian Research Centre and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, and principal investigator for station certification at ICOS


Escorted by a patrol boat from the Spanish Armada and a research vessel from the University of Cadiz, SD 1030 and SD 1053 sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar to enter the Mediterranean Sea—the first autonomous wind-powered vehicles to do so.