Z-Boat 1800MX maps seagrass, bathymetry and substrate via remote control

BioSonics, Inc. and The Oceanscience Group have announced the release of a portable remotely- operated habitat-mapping survey boat, the Z-Boat 1800MX. A combination of Oceanscience's proven remote hydrographic survey boat and BioSonics' industry-leading MX echosounder, the Z-Boat 1800MX allows researchers to obtain quantitative measurements of aquatic vegetation and substrate distribution without the expense and effort of launching a manned boat.

With the Z-Boat's position displayed on navigation software on the shore acquisition computer in real time, guiding the boat along planned survey lines is aided by on-board GPS. Simultaneously, BioSonics Visual Acquisition 6 software provides the operator with instant bathymetry and vegetation data courtesy of a high definition full water column echogram. With real-time control of all echosounder settings through the Ethernet network radio connection, data quality is not compromised with the switch to the remote platform.

BiosonicsZ-Boat 1800MX for Remote Operated Aquatic Habitat Surveys

Building on the successful integration of their DT-X fisheries echosounder on the Liquid Robotics Wave Glider in 2013, BioSonics recognizes the advantages and importance of utilizing unconventional platforms to deploy environmental monitoring equipment. "These remote platforms can provide our customers habitat data where previously it was costly or impossible to collect", according to BioSonics' spokesman Eric Munday of SUBSEA 20/20. "For hard-to-access shallow water surveys, the MX echosounder may be installed on the Z-Boat in just a few minutes, and then easily removed for use on a manned boat as required, so this is another tool to maximize the value of our instruments to our customers."

Eric contacted Oceanscience with the idea for a remotely-operated platform for the MX echosounder. Adrian McDonald of Oceanscience was immediately enthusiastic about the potential of the combination "Generally, we are looking for survey applications that are made challenging by accessibility restrictions. With many habitat surveys conducted in tidally influenced shallow water, having a very low draft boat that can be launched practically anywhere seems to be a valuable proposition." The timing was perfect for the collaboration, "We had just completed a new long range telemetry module designed for instruments just like the MX, and this new radio turned out to be ideal for the MX sonar". For BioSonics the integration was simple, "We were expecting to have to repackage the sonar for the Z-Boat but as it turned out the existing case fit in the boat's instrument compartment. So we did not have to change anything at all!"

With the MX integration complete, the two companies look forward to field demonstrations of the system in action, as well as more remote instrument projects.

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