NOAA Ship Rainier field tested a new hydrographic survey platform this season.
NOAA Ship Rainier field tested a new hydrographic survey platform this season. Last winter, one of the ship’s hydrographic survey launches was converted into a semi-autonomous vessel, allowing it to be operated remotely. Hydrographic surveying is, by nature, dangerous. Autonomous systems have the potential to augment traditional surveying methods, improving efficiency and decreasing (or eliminating) risk to the surveyors themselves. As such, this technology is an exciting step toward fully-autonomous hydrographic survey systems.
On the outside of the vessel, not much has changed. Cameras were installed around the vessel to provide a field of view for the remote operator. Antennas for new data radios were also added for telemetry between the launch and the ship or shore, up to six nautical miles away.
The interior of the launch is not obviously changed either. However, behind the scenes are several new modules such as an autopilot, the data radio, and additional computers capable of navigating the launch on a route planned by the remote operator.
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Image via NOAA.