The Saildrone Surveyor, an uncrewed autonomous vessel mostly powered by wind and solar energy, arrived at the dock in Honolulu, Hawaii during the afternoon of July 8th after a voyage lasting 28 days and covering an estimated 2,250nm. The 14 ton vessel, which has been touted as the world’s largest and most advanced autonomous ocean mapping drone, had sailed from San Francisco.
It was not the first ocean crossing for one of Saildrone’s autonomous surface vehicles, but the Saildrone Surveyor is a new, much larger class of vehicle optimized for deep-ocean mapping.
The Saildrone Surveyor was said to be the only vehicle in the world capable of long-endurance, uncrewed ocean mapping operations, and the hope will be that such vessels will be able to increase significantly the proportion of the ocean floor that is mapped.
During its maiden voyage the vessel mapped 6,400 nm/sq of seafloor.
Currently more than 80% of the ocean floor remains unmapped and unexplored.
California-based Saildrone plans to build a fleet of Surveyors to be manufactured at US shipyards. Saildrone has said that it intends to map the entire earth’s oceans within the next 10 years.