USM Oceanographers Select SeaTrac SP-48 for Rapid Sensing of Optical Properties in Maritime Environments

SeaTrac Systems, Inc. (SeaTrac) announces the sale and delivery of one of its SP-48 persistent Uncrewed Surface Vehicles (USVs) to a team at The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE).

The SOSE team has collaborated with SeaTrac, developing an innovative solution for rapid sensing of in situ optical properties using a SeaTrac Sp-48 autonomous platform.

“There is a critical need for rapidly mapping localized hydrodynamic and turbidity conditions in nearshore-ocean and coastal marine environments for natural resource management, environmental protection and national security,” says Dr. Xiaodong Zhang, Endowed Chair and Professor with SOSE’s Division of Marine Science at USM. “The SP-48 has the persistence and the payload power we were looking for to host a SeaBird ACS to measure hyperspectral absorption and a Sequoia LISST-VSF to track angular scattering,” Zhang explains.

“Once the capability for rapid sensing of optical properties is demonstrated in turbid or “brown” water coastal environments, several Federal agencies would like to incorporate the capability in ongoing R&D programs in maritime environments,” explains Dr. Jason McKenna, Director of Research, Development, Testing, & Evaluation (RDT&E) at USM’s Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise located at the Port of Gulfport in Gulfport, MS. “Ocean Enterprise will continue to support Testing and Evaluation of the SP-48 platform with SeaTrac, SOSE and federal agencies to satisfy emerging requirements in port resiliency and maritime domain awareness” says Dr. McKenna.

“Increasingly customers’ missions have grown in complexity requiring a range of sensors, and they’re looking for less costly, less resource-intensive and more flexible solutions to carry out a variety of tasks simultaneously in challenging marine environments,” says Jigger Herman, Co-Founder, SeaTrac Systems. “We are pleased to help the USM team push the envelope in rapid mapping of the optical field.”

The SP-48 is designed for users who require a flexible data gathering and communications platform that adapts to a wide variety of operational scenarios and payloads. The solar-powered, 4.8m SP-48 is a low-logistic, sensor-agnostic persistent USV with Automatic Identification System (AIS) collision avoidance, speed of 5kts, 500W payload power, and 70Kg payload capacity that can host a variety of sensors perfect for the collection and communication of real-time ocean data over long durations. Built to operate in all marine environments—from inland, near shore to open ocean—the SP-48 has a self-righting hull and efficient electric motor that frees it from reliance on wind or waves for propulsion. It is easily deployed from a boat ramp, pier or ship. Communications is achieved by line-of-sight Radio Frequency (RF), cellular, high-bandwidth satellite or custom networks.