Gulf of Mexico Multibeam Bathymetry

Saildrone's first shallow-water multibeam bathymetry mission in the Gulf of Mexico.



operation area

Gulf of Mexico

deployment location

Gulfport, MS


Saildrone partnered with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to launch a Saildrone unmanned surface vehicle (USV) equipped with a shallow-water multibeam echo sounder in the Gulf of Mexico to test the accuracy and longevity of the platform. SD 1024 spent 10 days sailing narrow transects in key areas of the gulf. The mission was designed to show that the saildrone could steer accurately enough to conduct a multibeam survey in shallow water and that the saildrone power budget could handle the significant requirements of a multibeam system operating 24/7.


With minimal post-processing, Saildrone data was found to meet or exceed International Hydrographic Organization standards for safety of navigation surveys.

"The United States has vast areas of unsurveyed waters, particularly in the Western Pacific, the Arctic, and the Great Lakes. We cannot afford to conduct these surveys using traditional methods and are seeking technology that will allow us to increase our capacity for surveying over the coming decade."

RADM Shep Smith, former director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey


SD 1024’s survey area included two known shipwrecks, but during the mission, the saildrone discovered a third wreck that doesn’t appear on any chart.