scripps oceanography ucsd

Scripps Technical Forum

Next Meeting

Date: Wednesday, 24 Jan 2018, 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Location: Martin Johnson House
*Coffee and pastries provided*

Saildrone: Unmanned Surface Vehicles for scientific research and global ocean in situ observations
Sebastien de Halleux, COO
sebastien at

The oceans affect the fundamental processes that drive our weather and climate. Understanding these processes and how they impact the exchange of energy and mass across the air-sea interface is crucial, but getting reliable and affordable data from remote parts of the ocean has historically been difficult. Working with governments and private companies around the globe, Saildrone designs and manufactures wind and solar powered unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) which make cost-effective ocean data collection possible at scale.

Each saildrone is 23 feet long by 20 feet tall and capable of long range autonomous wind-powered missions (up to 12 months) to any ocean location while carrying a sophisticated solar-powered ocean, meteorological, and fisheries sensor package that streams real-time data to shore via satellite. Saildrones provide data-as-a-service at an accuracy and spatial resolution that is unprecedented and at a fraction of the cost of traditional ship-based solutions.

Saildrones have sailed over 100,000 nautical miles in some of the most remote and toughest ocean conditions around the world. Successful missions include autonomous fish stock assessment, whale monitoring and marine mammal tracking in the Bering Sea; weather data collection and satellite calibration in the Tropical Pacific; and environmental monitoring of oil seeps and nitrate flows in the Gulf of Mexico. Future intended applications include bathymetry and Marine Protected Area surveillance.

In this talk, Sebastien will share Saildrone’s capabilities and recent missions, and discuss the potential future applications of this technology for oceanographers.

Past Presentations:

2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017


The Scripps Technical Forum (STF) is a grassroots effort to make technical expertise and resources more widely available within the UCSD/Scripps community; to enhance communications between technical staff and departments; explore extended opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration, technology transfer, and industry interactions; to explore innovative solutions to emerging challenges; to monitor and disseminate trends and new technologies; and, aid in personnel retention and enhance job satisfaction, including continuing education, and opportunities for job growth.

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