Replicable Autonomous Boat for Bathymetric Survey

Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso have constructed a fully autonomous boat that can carry out bathymetric surveys. The team hopes the robotic boat can help simplify the survey process, which usually takes a crew of individuals to complete, as well as assist with reconnaissance missions.

The rudderless watercraft operates with four thrusters, allowing it to travel up to 5 ft./sec. and easily rotate 360°. A solar panel and lithium battery allow the boat to last up to 4 hr. at sea, covering an area up to 472,400 sq. ft. A multibeam echosounder is located at the bottom of the boat.

To show proof of concept, the team successfully created 2D and 3D maps of portions of Ascarate Lake in El Paso, Texas, and Grindstone Lake in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

The boat will be used this summer to study the Rio Grande River’s flow and depth.

The boat and its capabilities, as well as instructions to replicate it, are described in the May issue of the journal Sensors

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