An autonomous vehicle for deep-ocean mapping completed its maiden voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Saildrone says it's now building a fleet of the crewless Saildrone Surveyors, which will help map the Earth’s oceans over the next decade.

An autonomous vehicle for deep-ocean mapping completed its maiden voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu. Saildrone says it's now building a fleet of the crewless Saildrone Surveyors, which will help map the Earth’s oceans over the next decade.

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  • U.S.-based Saildrone debuted its 23-ft unmanned surface vehicle, powered by solar energy and wind, in 2018.
  • A 72-ft version, called Saildrone Surveyor, launched earlier this year. The autonomous vessel relies on sonar to map the seafloor at depths of 23,000 feet, as well as gather DNA samples for analysis.
  • During its 28-day maiden voyage, Surveyor sailed 2,250 nautical miles and mapped 6,400 square nautical miles of seafloor.
  • Saildrone says it will apply Surveyor technology to other markets, including homeland security and defense applications, that have been typically reserved for larger ships.
  • It also announced plans to send a small fleet of vehicles into hurricane-prone areas to study the storm systems up close.
  • Currently, an estimated 80% of the seafloor is unmapped.

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