Project Saildrone

A wind-propelled autonomous platform
for ocean data collection

Primary 3

Designed for long-term deployments in the open ocean, Saildrone will support collection of diverse oceanographic data, which can then be delivered to shore remotely via satellite.

Rough 2

Saildrone sailing at 9 knots in around 20 knots of wind

Rough 6

Saildrone during its first 60 hour milestone, in 25 knots of wind

Saildrone is an innovative oceanographic research platform developed through a collaboration of Saildrone LLC with the Marine Science & Technology Foundation.  An autonomous vehicle designed for operation on the water's surface, Saildrone is powered entirely by wind and solar energy.  Suitable for deployments from either shore or ship, it has the capability to autonomously navigate across any body of water around the world.

Our current R&D effort aims to enable Saildrone to survive autonomous deployments lasting many months in the open ocean, and prove it as a cost-efficient and agile autonomous data collection platform. It can safely and reliably operate in areas difficult to access using large ships and other traditional methods - for example, around shallow reefs, banks, and in otherwise harsh coastal environments.

Saildrone will have substantial on-board payload capacity to accommodate a variety of embedded sensors as well as add-on instrumentation for collection of diverse oceanographic data.  Two-way satellite communication allows Saildrone to send data to shore and receive commands from a shoreside control center while operating autonomously at sea.  Missions can be modified "on-the-fly" by a shoreside operator, e.g. if telemetry data shows interesting trends that require more detailed investigation.

This collaboration will enable Saildrone LLC and MSTF to develop and thoroughly test the initial Saildrone prototype demonstrator, and assess the potential of this technology to help reduce the costs of oceanographic data collection relative to conventional methods.

Pacific testing mission

As of Dec 7th, Saildrone has now been deployed for 102 days in the pacific, covering over 6000 Nautical miles at an average speed of 2.5 knots. This historic journey demonstrates the singificant capabilities of the Saildrone platform. Currently 800 miles south of Hawaii, Saildrone 1 is undertaking some station keeping demonstrations.