The Autonomous Boat That’s Redefining Coastal Hydrographic Survey

Wednesday July 17th, 2019 TAGS: , , , ,

Autonomy is revolutionising coastal and inland hydrographic survey by offering a safe, cost effective solution that’s easy to mobilise, manoeuvrable, operationally flexible and less of a strain on personnel resource.

ASV, a subsidiary business of L3Harris Technologies, is at the forefront of this change with its cutting-edge, work-class Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs).

The C-Worker 4

Operated using ASV’s proprietary control system “ASView”, the 4-metre (13ft) C-Worker 4 with its waterjet propulsion system is the ideal solution for shallow water survey.

With 3 in build (stay tuned for more details…), 1 being commissioned and 3 already delivered globally, the C-Worker 4 is a survey solution that has proved itself in real world operations.

The versatility of the C-Worker 4 makes the vehicle suitable for a variety of tasks in coastal and inland environments, especially where a manned vessel could be dangerous or even impossible to use.

Real World Autonomy

C-Worker 4s have been involved in numerous survey operations, including charting surveys for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Coast Survey and, more recently, discovering new shipwrecks in the Great Lakes of US and Canada.

Both of these operations used the C-Worker 4 that ASV delivered to the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (UNH-CCOM) in 2016, named ASV BEN (Bathymetric Explorer and Navigator).

August 2018 saw ASV BEN collecting data for the Point Hope survey project, fulfilling the part of the US Arctic Nautical Charting Plan which aims to conduct hydrographic surveys in areas that have never previously been surveyed. The team of research engineers using ASV BEN consisted of engineers from UNH-CCOM and NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.

ASV BEN was fitted with a standard suite of hydrographic survey equipment while following planned survey lines.

In May 2019 ASV BEN, fitted with a multibeam sonar system, was used in a collaborative mission with Ocean Exploration Trust and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) to explore the Great Lakes of US and Canada. The mission mapped unexplored, newly expanded areas of TBNMS to support the ongoing exploration and management of shipwrecks in Lake Huron. More information on this expedition can be found on the Nautilus Live website.

Processed bathymetry map of the lakebed in TBNMS using data collected by ASV BEN.

What Next?

With 3 new C-Worker 4s currently in build there are more exciting use cases on the horizon. The company’s team of autonomy R&D experts are constantly developing new features and capability. One step at a time, L3Harris is redefining the way the world works at sea with the industry’s most advanced and proven maritime autonomy.

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