The captainless research vessel: scientists rely on unmanned surface boats for-term research


When it comes to acquiring knowledge, scientists are often constrained by human limitations. But when people expand their thinking to consider options that may seem beyond what is humanly possible, new doors to understanding open. That's what happened when marine biologists enlisted robots to study obscure regions of the sea. The Christian Science Monitor reports. Continue reading original article
The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:
White sharks aren’t supposed to be social. Yet researchers have used unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to find that the notoriously solitary predators regularly gather together at one particular spot in the Pacific Ocean.
There they perform a mysterious ritual: diving down almost 500 yards and then resurfacing, hundreds of times a day. In hopes of gaining some insight into this puzzling behavior, researchers have deployed two autonomous robots called Saildrones to gather crucial data to build a better picture of the region’s ecosystem.
Saildrones aren’t the first autonomous devices to be employed in marine science, but since their 2014 release they have been lauded for their utility. These boats are much less expensive to operate than ships, and because they’re wind- and solar-powered they can travel uninterrupted for months.