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A Comparison of an Unmanned Survey Vessel to Manned Vessels for Nearshore Tidal Current and Transport Measurements

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The focus of marine autonomous vehicles has largely been for offshore applications. The use of such observational platforms in estuaries and coastal embayments has been limited by the designs of the widely used AUVs, which are mostly for open ocean studies. Here we discuss the development and testing of an automated unmanned boat for shallow water use for (1) current velocities using an acoustic Doppler current profiler, (2) bathymetry using an echo sounder, (3) seabed configuration using a side-scan sonar, or (4) shallow, sub-bottom stratigraphy using a chirp sonar. After 91 h and 453 km of total distance surveyed, results demonstrate the numerous advantages this automated boat (Auto-boat) possesses over manned survey vessels. For example, the Auto-boat had the advantage in the accuracy of repeating a planned route continuously over at least a tidal cycle to resolve tidal and subtidal current velocity profiles. It provides endurance, energy efficiency, ease of operation, and capability of coverage of shallow areas close to shore.
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Keywords: acoustic Doppler current profiler; automated; survey vessel; transport measurements; unmanned

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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