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Unmanned Surface Vehicle Launched

The construction of a custom-built Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) for NC State/CMAST was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and will provide a robotic, shallow-water survey platform for seafloor and water quality mapping.

Detailed knowledge of the near-shore environment is needed to assess the impacts of various activities and policies on aquatic habitats, understand coastal change in the wake of rising sea-level and changing climate patterns, and reconstruct paleo-environments through the sedimentary record.

The ability to mount acoustic receivers and sound-recording hydrophones on the USV will also open up important new research avenues in fisheries ecology and animal behavior.

In addition to research, the USV will also expand significantly the teaching resources of CMAST and the broader marine science and education enterprise in the central NC coast. Graduate students will be able to use the USV in their research.

Undergraduate science students will have opportunities to join research teams using the instrument through the CMAST Summer Fellows Program, the Merial Summer Research Scholars Program, The Science House at CMAST, and programs supported by the NC State Office of Undergraduate Research.

The USV will operate extensively during our annual Costal Processes Field Course, which serves as a capstone course for all Marine Science Majors at NC State and is operated out of CMAST.

The USV is being made broadly available to the marine and aquatic science research communities by conducting investigator-driven experiments as a fee-for-service facility.

Funding from these operations, along with CMAST support for an USV technician, ensure the long-term sustainability of the facility.

To encouraging their widest possible use, USV sensor data and data-derived products will be made openly available through NSF’s Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office and the Marine Geoscience Data System.

(Photo: The NC State/CMAST Unmanned Surface Vehicle with 3 of 4 Principal Investigators (PI) shown from left to right: Drs. David Eggleston, Del Bohnenstiehl and Chris Osburn (PI Dr. Jeff Buckel is not shown).

Check out some video of the first test at CMAST! Look closely, it’s the figure just beyond the jetties moving back and forth.