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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Offshore trials demonstrate capabilities of new autonomous underwater sensor systems

Published: 29 April 2022
Offshore trials

Engineers and scientists from the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have recently returned from trials of new, state-of-the-art ocean biogeochemical sensors integrated with autonomous vehicles.

The offshore trials took place last month and successfully demonstrated and evaluated three sensor suites for autonomous measurements of: ocean nutrients, carbon chemistry, and the activity of marine phytoplankton that contribute approximately half the photosynthesis on the planet. Deploying the sensors on the Autosub Long Range (ALR) platform (aka ‘Boaty McBoatFace’) developed by the NOC, the expedition demonstrated the value of the entire sensor-vehicle platform as a novel scientific tool.

SMMI member, Professor Mark Moore and Principal Scientist on the cruise from the University of Southampton, said: “The multiple groups of scientists and engineers on board were really excited to finally be able to demonstrate the capabilities of these new integrated sensor systems. It was really interesting to think about how these new tools will enable different ways of observing and monitoring the oceans in an autonomous and low carbon manner”.

The UK-Government funded Oceanids programme is developing autonomous technologies that will equip the UK with a world-class net zero oceanographic research infrastructure. The programme, led by the NOC, partners with the University of Southampton and the University of Exeter and has been developing a suite of novel sensors capable of high-quality, real-time analysis of a wide range of biogeochemical parameters in the ocean. 

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