USV Adhemar | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

USV Adhemar

The unmanned surface vehicle (USV) of VLIZ is an Autonaut. This watercraft is remotely controlled for 24/7, and is able to carry out measurements of atmosphere and water (surface) for weeks to months. The USV can be deployed both nationally (Belgian part of the North Sea) as internationally. It can be launched from a beach, slipway or a research vessel.

What is an AutoNaut USV and how does it work?

An unmanned surface vehicle or USV, is a small boat that operates at sea without the need of a person onboard. USVs have become increasingly common in the world of marine robotics over the last number of years.

USVs are operated remotely by a set of trained pilots, who communicate to the vehicle by use of satellite. They are able to monitor the vehicle health and control the vehicle in real time.

What makes the Autonaut USV different from most USVs is that it uses the movement of the waves to produce forward motion. This means that a wave propelled USV, like the Autonaut uses far less energy than a normal vessel at sea. This, in combination with the Autonaut’s large solar panels, allows the Autonaut USV to stay at sea for far longer than most USVs.

Why use an USV?

USVs can perform a large amount of tasks at sea. The AutoNaut USV is particularly suited for tasks like the following:

  • The long endurance of the vehicle means that the AutoNaut can collect data when research vessels are not available, at a fraction of the cost.
  • The wave propelled nature of the vehicle allows for silent operations, which is ideal for listening to marine sound.
  • As the vehicle is connected to shore side, the AutoNaut is an ideal communication gateway between the subsea and the shore.
  • Because the AutoNaut is wave propelled, bad weather works in its favour. More waves mean more propulsion.
  • The small size of the vehicle allows the platform to reach shallow and smaller areas where a research vessel may have trouble.

How to make use of the USV?

For more information about the device and in case of interest in using it for scientific research, please contact the VLIZ Marine Robotics Center:

Use and conditions

Note: if you use the USV of VLIZ as a scientist, please refer to it in your publications as: 'This work was supported by data & infrastructure provided by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)'.

Technical details

  • Physical dimensions
    • Length: 5 meters
    • Width: ± 0.5 meters
    • Draught: 1 meter
    • Weight: 250 kg
  • Operational characteristics
    • Endurance: Multiple weeks
    • Solar panels to replenish onboard batteries
  • Communication
    • UHF Radio link
    • Iridium satellite
  • Scientific payload
    • CTD – Seabird Fastcat
    • Chlorophyll A, turbidity, organic matter – Wetlabs Ecopuck
    • Oxygen – Aandera 4831
    • Forward and Aft facing cameras
    • ADCP – Teledyne RDI Workhorse 600 kHz
    • Acoustic receiver – Vemco V2RC mini
    • Wave motion sensor – Aandera MOTUS
    • Hydrophone – Seiche MicroPAM