Autonomous Surface Vehicles

Developing new platforms for carbon measurements

Use of these vehicles could lead to a new paradigm for economical underway surface observations that does not rely on expensive research ships and is not restricted to the standard shipping lanes of volunteer vessels.

Saildrone sensor suite

Saildrone sensor suite as of November 2017.

Saildrone sensor suite

Saildrone sensor suite

The PMEL carbon group has teamed up with Liquid Robotics Inc. and Saildrone Inc. to integrate Autonomous Surface Vehicle CO2 (ASVCO2®) systems into Wave Gliders and Saildrones. These ASVs represents innovative approaches to ocean persistent presence.  The Wave Glider harnesses ocean wave energy to provide essentially limitless propulsion while solar panels continually replenish the batteries used to power the control electronics and payload systems. The Wave Glider vehicle is propelled by the purely mechanical conversion of ocean wave energy into forward thrust, independent of wave direction.  Saildrone electronics and sensors are also powered by solar panels, and wind propulsion allows Saildrones an average speed of 2-3 knots and can reach top speeds above 8 knots.

Through extensive engineering trials, demonstrations, and research missions, the capability of these ASVs for long-term autonomous operation in the open and coastal oceans has been firmly established. Missions have included surveys of the U.S. West Coast including Alaska, basin-scale crossings from Hawaii to San Diego and San Francisco to the Equatorial Pacific, and high-latitude missions in the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Southern Ocean.

Carbon Wave Glider Photo


The figure above shows a cut-away view of the integration of the ASVCO2® system, a modified Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MAPCO2®) system, onto the Wave Glider platform (Carbon Wave Glider, CWG). The figure to the right shows a schematic of the high quality oceanic and atmospheric sensors on Saildrones.  For more information on PMEL's Saildrone deployments, including mission blogs, see PMEL's Ocean Climate Stations and Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration. For more information about the MAPCO2® and ASVCO2®, please refer to the summary here.

Transcript below

0:05 >> Unmanned wave gliders are a simple, cost-effective platform for collecting ocean data
0:11 >> that does not rely on expensive ships or buoys.
0:37 >> This wave glider is propelled through the water by six underwater "wings" or fins
0:42 >> that convert wave energy into forward thrust.
0:47 >> With instrumentation and electronics powered by batteries replenished by solar panels,
0:53 >> the wave gliders can operate independently for hundreds of miles and many months.
1:02 >> This heavily instrumented wave glider measures salinity, temperature, and acidity of the
1:07 >> ocean as well as carbon dioxide in the surface seawater and in the air.
1:13 >> Similar wave gliders will be deployed off the coast of Hawaii this winter
1:18 >> and in the Arctic during the ice-free summertime.
1:21 >> The simple and easily deployed gliders are quickly becoming the future of ocean research.