These sleek autonomous sailboats help scientists understand climate change

Monitoring the health of our oceans is key for understanding how climate change affects our planet — which, in turn, is crucial for devising comprehensive action plans to help us mitigate this growing challenge.

In a bid to support our efforts of tackling global warming, California-based company Saildrone has deployed more than 100 AI-equipped drone sailboats to cruise our oceans and collect important data.

Bright red in color, the kayak-like saildrones are equipped with a number of data sensors, radar systems, and high-resolution cameras to map the ocean bed and keep track of changes affecting our ocean currents, wind speeds, and marine life populations.

As reported by designboom, Saildrone is one of the world’s biggest deployers of uncrewed vehicles tasked with collecting ocean-related data from both above and below the sea surface. Measuring around 7 meters (23 feet) in length, their eye-catching vessels feature a sail with solar panels and an aircraft-like tail, enabling them to only use the sun and the wind for traveling.

Equipped with multiple high-tech sensors, radars, and cameras, the vehicles are able to keep track of factors like ocean currents, wind speeds, sun radiation, sea and air temperature, as well as carbon dioxide emissions, and send all this data back to the Saildrone headquarters via satellite.

AI enables the saildrones to navigate on their own and conduct missions anywhere around the world, without needing refueling or human assistance for months on end. On top of that, saildrones are able to withstand harsh environments like the arctic, making them a viable alternative to crewed missions which can be dangerous and are often resource-intensive.

Image source: Saildrone

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