CSIRO partners with Saildrone for ocean monitoring

CSIRO has announced a partnership with San Francisco-based ocean technology start-up, Saildrone, to radically improve measurement and monitoring in Australian waters and the Southern Ocean.

The research partnership over five years between Saildrone and CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere group will see the deployment of state-of-the-art unmanned ocean surface vehicles, Saildrones, for the first time in Australian waters.

Research with the Saildrones will expand CSIRO’s extensive network of marine and climate monitoring systems around Australia, collecting more information about sea-surface temperature, salinity, and ocean carbon, and providing a platform for continued development of the next generation of marine and climate technologies.

The Saildrones are solar and wind powered and can be at sea for up to 12 months at a time where they 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 from anywhere in the world and are equipped with both automatic identification systems (AIS) and ship avoidance systems to alert and avoid other ocean users.

CSIRO Research Group Leader Andreas Marouchos said the partnership would see the organisation manage a fleet of three Saildrones deployed from the CSIRO in Hobart.

“This research partnership comes at a critical time for the marine environment, and at a time when technological innovation in the marine sector is booming,” Mr Marouchos said.

“Saildrones are long-range research platforms that can be sent to remote locations for an extended period of time, delivering real-time data back to scientists that was previously impossible to collect.”

“The devices gather fundamental information about our oceans and climate using a powerhouse of ocean chemistry, meteorological and marine acoustic sensors.

Ship time is expensive and yet ocean research depends on it. By augmenting traditional ships with a fleet of Saildrones, you can cost-effectively and autonomously gather data over large ocean areas in any conditions. Launched and retrieved from a dock, the Saildrone fleet navigates to its destination using wind power alone, transiting at 3-5 kts. Each drone can then hold station or perform survey patterns best suited for the specific research mission

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