Ocean Mapping

Autonomous high-resolution mapping data to 7,000 m depth for navigation and charting, telecommunications, offshore energy, exploration, characterization, and physical oceanography—at a fraction of the cost of traditional survey methods.

Saildrone Surveyor 72 foot autonomous vehicle
Saildrone Explorer with San Francisco in the background

A Charted Planet

Saildrone’s fleet of small and medium uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) provide near-shore and open-ocean bathymetry solutions that meet or exceed International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards.

An accurate map of the seafloor is 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. Our oceans must be explored, mapped, and characterized to fully understand their impact to planetary processes.

Bathymetry surveys that meet standards set by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) typically require an ocean survey vessel with an embarked team of trained personnel 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 interoperable data acquisition at scale, from coastal environments to the deep ocean.

Why Saildrone?

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Most cost-effective ocean mapping solution available
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Single-beam and multibeam bathymetric data that meets IHO standards
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24/7 autonomous operations monitoring with real-time data transmission via satellite communications
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Long-distance/long-term mission durations up to 365 days without returning to port for maintenance or refueling
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Reduced fuel consumption and carbon footprint
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Secure, encrypted data, vehicle to cloud

Saildrone Surveyor Launch - January 2021

The first in the Surveyor class of USVs, the Saildrone Surveyor carries sonar equipment capable of seafloor mapping down to 7,000 m.

Some Recent Missions

GOM Multibeam Bathymetry
GOM Multibeam Bathymetry
Saildrone's first shallow-water multibeam bathymetry mission in the Gulf of Mexico.
Learn More
Arctic Single-Beam Mapping
Arctic Single-Beam Mapping
An 8,000 nautical mile mission from San Francisco to the Canadian border to provide modern, accurate mapping data of Alaska’s North Slope and the Bering Sea.
Learn More

Purpose-built Autonomous Ocean Mapping 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.

Reconnaissance Single-beam

Saildrone Explorer 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. Especially useful in remote areas with sparse bathymetric information such as the Arctic.

Shallow Multibeam

Saildrone Explorer equipped with a Norbit iWBMS high-resolution multibeam echo sounder and sound velocity profiler (SVP) for shallow water multibeam surveys that meet IHO standards up to 400 m deep.

Deep Single-beam

Saildrone Explorer equipped with a Teledyne Echotrac E20 for deepwater single-beam surveys that meet IHO survey standards in areas up to 500 m deep.

Full Ocean Multibeam

Saildrone Surveyor equipped with Kongsberg EM2040 and EM304 for large-scale bathymetric surveys in the ocean up to 7,000 m deep.

Saildrone Support, Saildrone Surveyor, and Saildrone Explorer in Alameda, CA

Saildrone Vehicles

Saildrone Explorer – 7 m (22 ft) Uncrewed Surface Vehicle

The 7 m Saildrone Explorer is 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 can be equipped with an acoustic payload for specific mission requirements: a single-beam or multibeam sonar for bathymetry, an echo sounder for fisheries surveys, or an ADCP for current measurements.

Saildrone Explorer sensor payload

Saildrone Surveyor – 22 m (72 ft) Uncrewed Surface Vehicle

The 22 m Saildrone Surveyor 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 Saildrone Surveyor is outfitted with two multibeam echo sounders of differing frequencies, providing the capability to collect full-coverage, high-resolution bathymetry to depths up to 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 Saildrone Surveyor provides persistent and scalable bathymetry capabilities in the most remote areas of the ocean—and in any weather conditions.

Saildrone Surveyor sensor suite