An Australian research group, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will be using three unmanned self-sailing aquatic drones, made by Saildrone of San Francisco (saildrone.com), to explore and study vast expanses of the Southern Ocean (tinyurl.com/dronesail). Two are pictured, being tested, courtesy of CSIRO.
Powered by wind, the Saildrones’ electronics are sun-powered, and they can stay at sea for a year at a time uploading marine, atmospheric, ocean carbon and biomass data the whole time. They have ship avoidance systems so they won’t get nailed by a passing container ship, and can operate either autonomously or be remote-controlled via satellite.
Most importantly, the Saildrones will be “delivering real-time data back to scientists that was previously impossible to collect,” according to CSIRO Research Group Leader, Andreas Marouchos.