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Credit: CISCO and Saildrone

Credit: CISCO and Saildrone

Australia announced deployment of new research drones for ocean observations

On Jan 25, Australian research body CSIRO announced that its research partnership with San Francisco-based ocean technology startup Saildrone will see the deployment of unmanned ocean surface vehicles for the first time in Australian waters.

A fleet of 3 unmanned ocean surface vehicles will be deployed from the CSIRO in Hobart for ocean observations.  

These unmanned ocean surface vehicles called Saildrones will help expand CSIRO’s extensive network of marine and climate monitoring systems around Australia by collecting more marine information, such as sea-surface temperature, salinity, and ocean carbon.

Saildrone is a cost-effective data collection tool for ocean science as they can replace the costly and conventional use of research ships and vessels. This autonomous sailing drones can collect live ocean data even in remote waters. Other than assisting data collection in ocean and climate research, Saildrone also supports sustainable fisheries by assessing fish stock.

Powered by solar and wind, Saildrones are long-range research platforms that can be at sea for up to 12 months at a time. Equipped with ocean chemistry, meteorological and marine acoustic sensors, Saildrones can deliver real-time data back to scientists and can be tasked to assist in science missions including conducting stock assessments, uploading data from subsurface sensors or responding to marine emergencies. They can be controlled remotely and are equipped with both automatic identification systems (AIS) and ship avoidance systems to alert and avoid other ocean users.

According to its official website, Saildrones have been deployed in a few missions in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bering Sea, and Atlantic. The missions have a range of objectives, such as understanding the changing environment of the Bering Sea, detecting and tracking natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, and testing the endurance of the vehicle under hurricane Joaquin in the harsh waters of North Atlantic

According to the announcement, the CSIRO-Saildrone partnership is one of the many new research collaborations currently underway through the CSIRO US Office which was launched in September 2017.

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