NOAA Uses C-Worker 4 for Arctic Survey

Wednesday August 8th, 2018 TAGS: , ,

A recent blog by the NOAA Office of Coast Survey has detailed how a team of research engineers are using a C-Worker 4 autonomous surface vessel (ASV) to explore the use of autonomy for charting surveys in the Arctic regions.

The team, comprising research engineers and a graduate from the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center (UNH CCOM/JHC) and personnel from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey are onboard the NOAA Ship ‘Fairweather’ to test the C-Worker 4.

Delivered to the University of New Hampshire by ASV Global in 2016, the C-Worker 4 is a diesel powered ASV, measuring just over 4 meters in length. The vessel is part of the established C-Worker range and is designed to conduct a variety of offshore and inshore survey tasks.

The C-Worker 4 has a longer endurance and is larger in size than other unmanned surface vessels (USVs) used by NOAA. The C-Worker 4 is equipped with a standard suite of hydrographic survey equipment and can independently follow planned survey lines at a distance of approximately 5 miles from the ship. The ASV can also be remotely driven when alongside the ship for deployment and recovery.

This operation with NOAA “marks the first successful launch of an ASV for an operational hydrographic survey from a NOAA vessel in the Arctic” according to Rob Downs, Office of Coast Survey unmanned systems projects lead.

Following the launch on Saturday 28th July, the team has since carried out four further deployments including an overnight survey.

Known to the group as ‘BEN’ (Bathymetric Explorer and Navigator), the C-Worker 4 is collecting data to contribute to the Point Hope survey project. This project will fulfil part of the U.S Arctic Nautical Charting Plan, conducting hydrographic surveys in areas that have never previously been surveyed.

These tests using the C-Worker 4 are enabling the group to explore how autonomous technology can integrate with traditional survey methods. In addition, this testing is providing experience to the crew in the operation and support of autonomous systems.

Developing the C-Worker 4 for survey work is key to the Coast Survey’s autonomous systems strategy which aims to explore how autonomy can provide more efficient and effective acquisition of environmental data.

For more information about this operation, visit the NOAA Coast Survey website or NOAA’s dedicated autonomy web page.

The unmanned surface vehicle BEN launched from NOAA Ship Fairweather. Photo by Christina Belton, NOAA.
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