USV for Hydrographic Survey

Technology developed to help Marines plan for amphibious operations in now assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with collecting hydrographic survey data in areas not easily accessed by a manned vessel. 

Developed by the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Unmanned Survey Vessel for Shallow Water helps military planners by gathering survey information in dangerous or inaccessible areas, while keeping recon teams out of harm’s way.

Researchers and surveyors are finding that it also has a civil works application.

Jeff Jalbrzikowski, a surveyor for the Corps’ Pittsburgh District joined field data collection experts from ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulic Laboratory at the district’s Loyalhanna Lake, May 6. He reached out to the lab after learning that the USV recently collected sedimentation survey data at the Bankhead Lock and Dam on the Black Warrior River in Alabama.

We’re trying to get a better answer for if we need to do any dredging here out on the lake” to plan for the project, said Jalbrzikowski.

The 10-ft-long, 48-in-wide catamaran-hulled boat can operate in six inches of water and provide multi-beam imaging in less than a meter of water or as deep as 120 meters of water. It is also equipped with a sound velocity probe, a motion sensor and a dual frequency GPS system.

The technology provides a picture of the underwater landscape that helps planners and designers to see obstacles, sedimentation buildup and navigation passages. The boat is driven by remote control system that directs power from two onboard batteries to any or all of the three motors. In a pinch, it can turn around in its own space.

Researchers are planning to integrate above and underwater LiDAR and looking at providing capabilities for conducting structural analysis on piers and other structures.