Unmanned Surface Vehicle for Autonomous Bathymetric Surveys


Collecting data from freshwater lakes is essential for monitoring ecological health and water quality. Traditional methods involve using manned vessels that require multiple personnel and often rely on ecologically harmful fuels or involve tedious manual kayaking. These methods are not only resource-intensive but also infrequent, typically responding to ecological issues only after significant damage has occurred.

This project aims to revolutionize lake monitoring by developing an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) that can autonomously perform bathymetric surveys. This USV enables more frequent and comprehensive data collection, helping detect and address issues caused by industrial projects, tourism, or agricultural runoff before they become detrimental to the lake’s ecosystem.

Project Objectives:

  1. Affordability and Accessibility: Create an affordable USV using locally or easily sourced parts, making it accessible to scientists, local communities, and educational institutions.
  2. Autonomous Operation: Design the USV to operate autonomously with minimal human intervention, reducing the need for multiple personnel and lowering operational costs.
  3. Modular Design: Ensure the USV is modular and configurable to accommodate a variety of sensors and equipment, enhancing its versatility for different survey needs.
  4. Environmental Impact: Promote environmentally friendly data collection methods by reducing reliance on fuel-powered vessels and minimizing ecological disturbances.

Design Criteria: The USV was constructed to meet the following criteria:

  • Buoyancy and Load Capacity: Capable of carrying a load of 15kg while maintaining buoyancy.
  • Modularity: Configurable for various sensors to perform different types of data collection.
  • Autonomous Surveying: Capable of autonomously surveying designated areas of a lake.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Reduce the overall cost of data collection, making it accessible for a wider range of users.

Proof of Concept: The prototype USV has demonstrated the following capabilities:

  • Remote and Autonomous Operation: The USV can be controlled remotely and operate autonomously, following pre-defined mission plans.
  • Sensor Integration: Equipped with multiple sensors and data collection equipment to gather comprehensive ecological data.
  • Mission Planning Software: Utilizes mission planning software to plan and execute survey missions.
  • Supervised Operation: Operates under supervision with plans to implement autonomous obstacle and shallow depth avoidance systems.
  • Battery Life: Operates for over 4 hours on a single battery charge, allowing for extended survey missions.

Long-term Goals:

  • Regular Scheduled Surveys: Perform regular, scheduled surveys of high-risk areas to provide continuous monitoring and early detection of ecological changes.
  • Remote Monitoring: Enable full remote monitoring from a base station, allowing for the supervision of multiple USVs simultaneously.
  • Fleet Operations: Use multiple USVs in formation to expedite the surveying of large areas, improving efficiency and coverage.
  • Digital Twin Creation: Supply data to create a ‘digital twin’ of lakes, tracking ecological changes over time and providing a comprehensive understanding of the ecosystem.
  • Advanced Autonomy: Implement advanced autonomous features such as obstacle avoidance and mission pausing/resuming based on real-time analysis.

Current Challenges:

  • Personnel Requirements: Traditional methods require multiple personnel to operate vessels and data collection equipment.
  • High Costs: Existing market products are expensive and complex, making them inaccessible to many potential users.
  • Limited Monitoring: Current monitoring methods are limited to single points or very small areas, providing incomplete data.

Innovative Solutions:

  • Single Operator Setup: Designed for easy setup and operation by a single individual, reducing the need for multiple personnel.
  • Compact and Transportable: The USV is small and transportable, making it easy to deploy and operate in various locations.
  • Community and Industry Access: Designed to be affordable and accessible, allowing communities and industries to utilize the USV for their monitoring needs.
  • Modular Sensor Configuration: The modular design allows for a wide range of sensor configurations, catering to different data collection requirements and enabling easy adjustments for specific survey missions.

Project Impact:

This project has the potential to significantly improve the monitoring and management of freshwater lakes by providing a cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly solution. By enabling frequent and comprehensive surveys, the USV helps detect ecological issues early, allowing for timely interventions that can preserve the health of aquatic ecosystems. The affordability and accessibility of the USV make it a valuable tool for scientists, local communities, and educational institutions, fostering a collaborative approach to environmental conservation and research.

Contact US

Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.
Contact Information
What can we do to help:

Thank you for viewing your sample site!

We take the stress out of websites for you and offer quick, easy web design so you can get your business online as quick as possible.  Start growing and get exposure now!

Below is what you get when you sign up to our site:

  • Unlimited website content updates*
  • Professional email address
  • Online Contact forms
  • Domain name
  • Web Server Hosting
  • Full site maintenance, updates, backups and restore

*Content and images need to be supplied

We also offer additional growth packages to Jet your business to the sky!

  • SEO keyword reviews ($2500 per month)
  • Marketing Content Generation
  • Online Ecommerce Store
  • Online Booking & Appointment System
  • Online Payment System (with Paypal/Stripe/Square)
  • And MORE!

Let us know below if you would like your site started