A comparison of an unmanned survey vessel to manned vessels for nearshore tidal current and transport measurements

Document Type


Publication Date



The focus of marine autonomous vehicles has largely been for offshore applications. The use of such observational platforms in estuaries and coastal embayments has been limited by the designs of the widely used AUVs, which are mostly for open ocean studies. Here we discuss the development and testing of an automated unmanned boat for shallow water use for (1) current velocities using an acoustic Doppler current profiler, (2) bathymetry using an echo sounder, (3) seabed configuration using a side-scan sonar, or (4) shallow, sub-bottom stratigraphy using a chirp sonar. After 91 h and 453 km of total distance surveyed, results demonstrate the numerous advantages this automated boat (Auto-boat) possesses over manned survey vessels. For example, the Auto-boat had the advantage in the accuracy of repeating a planned route continuously over at least a tidal cycle to resolve tidal and subtidal current velocity profiles. It provides endurance, energy efficiency, ease of operation, and capability of coverage of shallow areas close to shore.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Marine Technology Society Journal

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.