Saildrone: Taking Ocean Data Collection to a New Level
In a rapidly changing climate, it is essential that we are able to gather environmental data easily and at scale. Saildrone has developed an innovative way to achieve this.
Saildrone has built a vessel that is capable of providing us with insights into weather forecasting, fishing, carbon cycling, climate change and more. Saildrone works with governments and private companies around the world, building high-resolution datasets at scale.
So what is a Saildrone? Technically speaking, it is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) but is easier described as a 23-foot orange sailboat, using wing technology developed from 10 years of research into high-performance land sailing. The wing is tall and hard, with a trim tab attached to the tail to adjust the angle of the wing, therefore adjusting the course of the Saildrone. For gathering data, Saildrone uses a combination of wind and solar-powered sensors to collect long-range data, even in the roughest sea conditions.
Saildrone missions last up to 12 months and can cover tens of thousands of miles, following a mission plan defined by the Saildrone ‘user’. Each mission is fully managed by Saildrone, right from the launch to the final delivery of data. The team at Saildrone headquarters, located in Canada, work around the clock to manage every aspect of the mission, such as route setting, weather forecasting, and solving any problems that arise. Throughout the mission, Saildrone also maintains a constant line of communication with the 'user'.
Saildrones are used for a variety of different missions, including tracking tagged animals, measuring ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide, as well as detecting and tracking oil seeps and spills.