2.6 Examining the Use of an Autonomous Surface Vehicle for Shallow Water Charting

Monday, 23 January 2017: 5:15 PM
Conference Center: Chelan 4 (Washington State Convention Center )
Jakob Rehmann, NOAA, Norfolk, VA

One of the core missions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to update nautical charts by performing hydrographic surveys. This summer I worked with the crew of the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson, which employs sonar to determine the water depth of coastal areas.  My specific task was to help integrate an unmanned and autonomous surface vessel (the “Z-Boat”) into the ship’s suite of hydrographic survey platforms. The Z-Boat’s small size allows it to investigate shallow areas, which were previously inaccessible to NOAA vessels. Once a study area is specified, the Z-Boat autonomously navigates the area to obtain a sea-floor profile. I tested the boat’s current capabilities by participating in several surveys off the coast of Virginia. This data will be used to update nautical charts of the area, which allows mariners to navigate safely.  I also worked on integrating side-scan sonar into the Z-Boat. This upgrade will enable the boat to collect imagery of the sea floor, which is useful for ground-type identification and object detection. The Z-Boat’s ability to gather bathymetric data also has possible applications meteorological research: accurate bathymetry can help map coastal currents and model the formation and impacts of hurricanes. In this presentation, I will introduce the current capabilities of the Z-Boat and discuss future improvements and applications.
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