Inshore survey applications, such as mapping the seafloor to support maintenance and dredging operations, present unique challenges, including:
- Operating in constrained waterways
- Safely operating in active shipping lanes without interfering with traffic
- Providing routine coverage for environmental change detection in shallow waters
Traditional towed systems are limited in effectively addressing these challenges. They require tethers connected to a surface vessel, restricting access and limiting maneuverability in constrained and high-traffic environments.
AUVs overcome many of these challenges and operate relatively unnoticed and benignly in these types of environments. Free from tethers, AUVs are much less likely to encounter difficulties in heavily traveled waterways. Unconstrained by a connection to a larger support vessel, AUVs can maneuver into smaller and shallower areas where towed systems cannot. In addition, the navigational accuracy of AUVs coupled with their stability of flight allows them to repeat prior surveys consistently, enabling detection of changes to the seafloor.