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‘Technological marvel’

MI acquires autonomous surface vessel for training, research


By Moira Baird

The Marine Institute is partnering with SeaRobotics Corp. to acquire its first autonomous surface vessel (ASV).

A rendering of a large research vessel with radar equipment and a large missile-shaped vehicle on the deck.
A rendering of the Marine Institute’s SR-Endurance 8.0 autonomous surface vessel.
Photo: Submitted

The partnership will enhance its technology complement for training and research in ocean mapping, observation and characterization.

Design of the more than $1-million, state-of-the-art ASV is underway and delivery is expected in the spring of 2022.

Monitor from shore or sea

The eight-metre-long, self-righting ASV features a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, collision avoidance technology, GPS navigation and backseat driver capability to pass control to an operator.

Its functionality is adaptable and can be outfitted to accept a variety of sensors and sonars as new technologies are developed and tested, including multibeam echo sounder for 3D seafloor mapping.

The ASV is monitored continuously from shore or sea as it collects ocean data and is designed to operate non-stop in a variety of conditions for up to 14 days depending on speed and payload.

It is rated for operations in waves up to four metres high and Beaufort wind scale seven (near gale-force winds).

‘Technological marvel’

“It is a small, efficient, technological marvel,” said Paul Brett, head of the School of Ocean Technology at the Marine Institute.

“We are proud to partner with SeaRobotics as we enter the innovative world of autonomous vehicles. This is the next generation of technology that will change how we map and characterize the ocean and it will help to expand these capabilities in Atlantic Canada. It will also provide unique opportunities for our students and researchers to work with cutting-edge technology.”

In the coming months, the Marine Institute will provide ASV construction updates via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Next generation

“SeaRobotics is pleased to partner with the Marine Institute’s School of Ocean Technology,” said Don Darling, president of SeaRobotics.

“Delivery of the SR-Endurance 8.0 ASV will enable broad range ocean research and educational opportunities for scientists and students alike. We are honoured to participate in both cutting-edge research, as well as the evolution of the next generation of ocean technologists.”

Headquartered in Stuart, Fla., SeaRobotics specializes in smart survey vehicles that are crewed/uncrewed and autonomously operated.

The company’s vehicles are used in a variety of operations, ranging from bathymetric and hydrographic surveys to surveillance of coastlines, harbours and rivers. For more information about SeaRobotics, visit here.

A number of vessels are tied up at a wharf with the Marine Institute's Holyrood Marine Base visible to the left.
The autonomous surface vessel will be housed at the Marine Institute’s Holyrood Marine Base.
Photo: Angie Bishop

Acquisition of the ASV at a cost of more than $1.16 million was made possible with investments from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which contributed $501,463 through the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology’s Innovation and Business Development Fund and the Government of Canada, which contributed $252,912 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The Marine Institute contributed $409,019.

The ASV acquisition is part of the ongoing expansion at the Holyrood marine base.

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