NOAA-funded Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI) has taken delivery of an iXblue DriX uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) and its Universal Deployment System. The solution is expected to help expand the footprint and efficiency of the institute’s ocean exploration operations.

Source: iXblue

The autonomous solution was delivered to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (UNH CCOM), a member of OECI, in July 2021.

Last summer, DriX and its novel Universal Deployment System completed sea acceptance trials and extensive personnel training during the summer of 2021. Integration and a first shakedown cruise onboard Ocean Exploration Trust’s E/V Nautilus were completed this March.

“NOAA Ocean Exploration is pleased to see the operations of this new DriX technology successfully integrated with Exploration Vehicle Nautilus,” said NOAA Ocean Exploration director Jeremy Weirich.

“Being able to operate DriX over the horizon and away from a ship will increase the rate at which we can explore the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in support of the National Strategy for Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization.”

DriX will support NOAA Ocean Exploration’s mission by providing mapping and characterization capabilities and supporting other autonomous vehicles that are independent of the activities of the mother ship.

The research being conducted with DriX will serve to inform NOAA on the potential use of autonomous systems in support of the broad NOAA mission.

“We are thrilled to add DriX to the OECI collection of vehicles. It is critical to our vision of expanding the footprint of ocean exploration by collecting valuable ocean exploration data independently and simultaneously with a research vessel and at the same time providing communications and support for submerged assets” said Adam Soule, executive director of OECI.  “This is a linchpin for the future of ocean exploration.”

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