What Is a Saildrone?

Saildrone’s global fleet of autonomous vehicles provides cost-effective solutions for in situ data collection in the most remote regions of the ocean and in the harshest conditions.

Capable. Proven. Trusted.

Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) are the most capable, proven, and trusted platforms available for the collection of high-quality ocean data for a wide variety of applications.

Both the Saildrone Explorer and Saildrone Surveyor combine wind-powered propulsion technology and solar-powered meteorological and oceanographic sensors to perform autonomous long-range data collection missions in the harshest ocean environments.

The maritime security variants of the vehicles also include an advanced acoustic and camera system that, combined with our proprietary onboard machine learning algorithm, fuses sensor data to deliver significantly expanded information and decision advantage 24/7.

Saildrone provides a fully managed service from start to finish: We handle the transport of the USVs to the area of operations, launch and retrieve the USVs, and deliver high-resolution data in real time and raw data post mission.

Vehicle Features

Wind propulsion

Saildrone’s patented propulsion system is the result of a 10-year research effort in high-performance landsailing and consists of a tall, hard wing, a longitudinal spar, and a vertical tail; a trim-tab on the tail adjusts the wing angle to the wind, similar to the way an elevator trim tab controls the pitch of an aircraft

Long endurance

The Saildrone wing technology enables a mission duration of up to 12 months, without the need to return to land for maintenance or refueling; an annual maintenance guarantees optimal data quality


The 23 ft (7 m) Saildrone Explorer travels at an average speed of two to three knots and can reach top speeds above 8 knots (nine miles per hour); the 72 ft (22 m) Saildrone Surveyor travels at 10 knots; sailing over 100 kilometers per day on average, these USVs can reach most ocean locations within 30 days from the closest shore and cover large survey areas


Saildrone USVs are under the constant supervision of a human pilot via satellite and navigate autonomously from prescribed waypoint to waypoint, accounting for wind and currents, while staying within a user-defined safety corridor

Safety at sea

To further ensure safe operation, each USV is equipped with an automatic identification system (AIS) transceiver, navigation lights, radar reflector, high-visibility wing colors, and four onboard cameras; safety is a top priority, and Saildrone is proud of its strong track record of safe operations

Saildrone Vehicles

Saildrone Explorer – 23 ft (7 m) Uncrewed Surface Vehicle

The 23 ft 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 – 72 ft (22 m) Uncrewed Surface Vehicle

The 72 ft 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 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 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