NOAA 50th Anniversary
Office of Coast Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

Autonomous Systems

Autonomous Technology for Hydrographic Surveying

Autonomous Systems

From self-driving cars to camera-equipped drones, the capabilities of unmanned systems are rapidly advancing. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has been investigating the use of autonomous survey systems to support hydrographic survey operations since 2004. The goal is to explore how autonomy provides more efficient and effective acquisition of environmental data to support NOAA’s navigation products and services.

Coast Survey’s Autonomous Systems Strategy

  • Develop technology and procedures, including automated data acquisition and processing tools, new data acquisition procedures, and data telemetry to support unmanned operations and benefit conventional manned survey platforms.
  • Establish a dedicated Coast Survey team specializing in the operational use of unmanned systems.
  • Convert existing hydrographic survey launches to operate in either manned or unmanned modes to take advantage of existing shipboard infrastructure and expertise, while incrementally adopting new technology and procedures.
  • Continue to support the development and transfer-to-operations of unmanned systems that benefit Coast Survey’s mission.
  • Continue to collaborate with government, academic and industry partners to share expertise and resources and direct and expedite development.

Why Automation?

  • Innovation - Pioneer and be the nation’s experts
  • Efficiency - Reduce operational cost, manpower requirements, or time to produce products
  • Enhanced Capabilities - Improved responsiveness and data quality; ability to collect data previously inaccessible
  • Personnel Management - With automation, workforce can focus on tasks that require their expertise, rather than on repetitive, laborious tasks

Revised: 12/4/2019