Bathymetry

High-resolution mapping data for navigation and charting, telecommunications, offshore energy, and physical oceanography

Saildrone’s fleet of small and medium autonomous vehicles provides near-shore and open-ocean bathymetry solutions that meet or exceed IHO order 1a specifications.

An accurate map of the seafloor is necessary and vital not only to navigation and transportation, but also for telecommunications, offshore energy, fisheries, and physical oceanography. Oceans make up more than 70% of Earth’s surface, but only about 20% of the ocean has been mapped using modern, high-resolution technology.

Bathymetry solutions that meet standards set by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) typically require a research vessel and trained team to operate the equipment—an extremely expensive and time-consuming undertaking, further limited by fuel requirements, provisioning, and weather. Saildrone’s autonomous platforms provide cost-effective solutions for single-beam and multibeam bathymetric data acquisition at scale, from coastal environments to the deep ocean.

Purpose-built autonomous bathymetry solutions

Innovative commercial technology solutions for autonomous data acquisition, real-time data transmission, and post-mission raw data processing that meets IHO global ocean bathymetry standards for a range of depths—20 meters to 7,000 meters.

Recon single-beam – SUSV equipped with an Airmar DT800 echo sounder for single-beam reconnaissance missions (e.g. contour line mapping) meeting IHO Order 2 survey requirements in areas up to 100 m deep.

Shallow multibeam – SUSV equipped with a Norbit iWBMS echosounder and partnered with a second vehicle equipped with a sound velocity profiler (SVP) for shallow water multibeam surveys that meet IHO special order requirements in areas up to 160 m deep.

Deep single-beam – SUSV equipped with a Teledyne Echotrac E20 and partnered with a second vehicle equipped with SVP for deepwater single-beam surveys that meet IHO Order 1a survey requirements in areas up to 500 m deep.

Full ocean multibeam – MUSV equipped with Kongsberg EM2040 and EM304 for large-scale bathymetric surveys in the ocean up to 7,000 m deep.

Saildrone autonomous single-beam and multibeam bathymetry capabilities

Saildrone – 7 m SUSV

The 7 m saildrone is a small unmanned surface vehicle (SUSV) designed to carry a payload of sensors to collect data above and below the sea surface. A 5 m wing provides wind power for forward propulsion and solar panels power onboard science and navigation instruments. Saildrones equipped for single-beam or multibeam bathymetry carry an echo sounder in addition to the standard sensor suite. They are often partnered with a second SUSV equipped with a SVP.

Saildrone Surveyor – 22 m MUSV

The 22 m Saildrone Surveyor is Saildrone’s medium unmanned surface vehicle (MUSV). It is a wind and motor power combined solution: It transits autonomously to and from any area of the ocean under wind power and uses the engine to perform IHO-compliant surveys. 

The Surveyor is outfitted with two multibeam echo sounders of differing frequencies, providing the capability to collect full-coverage, high-resolution bathymetry up to depths of 7,000 meters. The vehicle is also equipped with a suite of single-beam echo sounders, two Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP), a Moving Vessel Profiler (MVP), and a CTD sensor to collect water column and seafloor characterization data.

With a speed of 10 knots, the Surveyor provides persistent and scalable bathymetry capabilities in the most remote areas of the ocean—and in any weather conditions.

Why Saildrone?

  • Single and multibeam bathymetric data that meets IHO standards
  • 24/7 autonomous operations monitored by staffed remote bridge
  • Near-real-time data transmission via satellite communications
  • Autonomous transit to survey area
  • Long-distance/long-term mission durations up to 365 days without returning to port for maintenance or refueling
  • Reduced fuel consumption and carbon footprint
  • Data interoperability
  • COLREGS compliant

Customize Your Bathymetry Solution

Interested in exploring how autonomous technologies can help you achieve your ocean seafloor mapping objectives?

Tell us about your mission needs and get started planning your custom solution.

Latest News

Saildrone bathymetry case studies and related science articles

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Missions

Saildrone’s Arctic fleet has begun to map the 20-meter and 50-meter contour lines from Point Hope to the Canadian border.

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Missions

This first-of-its-kind acoustic bathymetry mission will test the ability of Saildrone USVs to map the US exclusive economic zone off Alaska’s North Slope.

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Company

UNH, MBARI, and Saildrone will work together to advance deepwater ocean bathymetry thanks to a three-year grant from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.

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