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Australia announced deployment of new research drones for ocean observations

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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