The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI), funded by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER), has purchased iXblue’s DriX Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) to aid in expanding its exploration capabilities.
The DriX is an 8-metre long autonomous long-endurance USV that can operate at high speeds and features excellent offshore seakeeping ability. In addition to the vessel, OECI has also purchased a custom-designed Universal Deployment System that can launch and recover the USV as well as AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles). The vessel is expected to be put to sea by mid-2021.
The DriX USV will be operated by the University of New Hampshire, who are partnered with OECI, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the not-for-profit Ocean Exploration Trust. This new five-year alliance is envisaged to extend NOAA’s reach and capabilities for its ocean exploration portfolio.
Larry Mayer, Director of the Center of Coastal and Ocean Mapping, and the University of New Hampshire’s co-PI on the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, commented: “The ability to launch and recover unmanned surface vessels as well as other autonomous systems like AUVs from the same launch and recovery system allows us to support a range of collaborative ocean exploration operations from a single research vessel. With these collaborative, multi-vehicle operations we hope to greatly expand the footprint and efficiency of ocean exploration.”
Marine Slingue, VP at iXblue, said: “We want to thank NOAA for trusting iXblue in being part of their new unmanned systems strategy. We look forward to our continuous partnership and to helping them expand the development and operations of unmanned maritime systems in the U.S. coastal and world’s ocean waters.”