First Underwater Drone Successfully Crosses the English Channel
On the 29th of April 2023, the YUCO became the first micro–Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to successfully cross the English Channel from Folkestone, England, to Wissant, France.
The pioneering crossing, a partnership between RS Aqua and SEABER, took less than 8 hours.
This small but mighty AUV measuring just under one meter in length, weighing 10 kg, is the first of its kind to have battled its way through the highly variable weather conditions and strong currents in the Channel – also considered to be one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. To maintain accurate navigation and keep the mission on track, the YUCO resurfaced a total of three times during the crossing to re-establish its location using GPS.
“Prior to the introduction of micro-AUVs, collecting scientific data in coastal environments always had challenges - be it spatial coverage, funding, time, weather, or types of data that could be collected” explains Nathan Hunt, Ocean Scientist at RS Aqua. “With the introductions of micro-AUV platforms like YUCO, data collection has become vastly more attainable and accessible to a wide range of users, from large energy corporations to smaller research institutes. The YUCO Channel crossing has further highlighted the reliability and endurance of the platform, helping bridge the gap between large-scale metocean monitoring, and small-scale coastal research.”.
The aim of this mission was to demonstrate the reliability and endurance of the YUCO on the 39km underwater route from England to France. The navigation and battery capacity of the YUCO were both put to the test. The success of the channel crossing is a huge testament to the YUCO’s impressive capabilities – the YUCO stayed on course and completed its mission with 35% battery power remaining.
Micro-AUV's are becoming more popular as they are more portable, easy-to-use, and affordable for consumers compared to more traditional AUV technologies.
“The YUCO micro-AUV Channel crossing is a world first. At RS Aqua we are committed to enabling the further discovery of our oceans, and the whole team are extremely excited and proud to have made this happen in partnership with SEABER.” added Martin Stemp, Managing Director at RS Aqua.