Integrating Sensors into a Marine Drone for Bathymetric 3D Surveys in Shallow Waters

Sensors (Basel). 2015 Dec 29;16(1):41. doi: 10.3390/s16010041.


This paper demonstrates that accurate data concerning bathymetry as well as environmental conditions in shallow waters can be acquired using sensors that are integrated into the same marine vehicle. An open prototype of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) named MicroVeGA is described. The focus is on the main instruments installed on-board: a differential Global Position System (GPS) system and single beam echo sounder; inertial platform for attitude control; ultrasound obstacle-detection system with temperature control system; emerged and submerged video acquisition system. The results of two cases study are presented, both concerning areas (Sorrento Marina Grande and Marechiaro Harbour, both in the Gulf of Naples) characterized by a coastal physiography that impedes the execution of a bathymetric survey with traditional boats. In addition, those areas are critical because of the presence of submerged archaeological remains that produce rapid changes in depth values. The experiments confirm that the integration of the sensors improves the instruments' performance and survey accuracy.

Keywords: 3D bathymetric data elaboration; Gegraphic Iinformation System (GIS) application; bathymetry; marine USV; open prototype; shallow waters.