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Progress in the development of shallow-water mapping systems

January 1, 2007

The USGS (US Geological Survey) Coastal and Marine Geology has deployed an advance autonomous shallow-draft robotic vehicle, Iris, for shallow-water mapping in Apalachicola Bay, Florida. The vehicle incorporates a side scan sonar system, seismic-reflection profiler, single-beam echosounder, and global positioning system (GPS) navigation. It is equipped with an onboard microprocessor-based motor controller, delivering signals for speed and steering to hull-mounted brushless direct-current thrusters. An onboard motion sensor in the Sea Robotics vehicle control system enclosure has been integrated in the vehicle to measure the vehicle heave, pitch, roll, and heading. Three water-tight enclosures are mounted along the vehicle axis for the Edgetech computer and electronics system including the Sea Robotics computer, a control and wireless communications system, and a Thales ZXW real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS receiver. The vehicle has resulted in producing high-quality seismic reflection and side scan sonar data, which will help in developing the baseline oyster habitat maps.