USV Adhemar | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

USV Adhemar

The unmanned surface vehicle (USV) of VLIZ is an Autonaut. This watercraft can fully autonomously perform scientific research of the atmosphere and water (surface) out at sea for weeks or even months straight. The USV can be deployed both nationally (Belgian part of the North Sea) as internationally. It can be launched from a beach, slipway or a research vessel.

What is an USV and how does it work?

An USV (unmanned surface vehicle) is a watercraft able of performing measurements of the atmosphere or water column completely autonomous for days till months straight. The presence of an AIS (automatic identification system) and a camera make sure that the watercraft will always avoid obstacles. If needed, the USV adapts its own course.

The USV of VLIZ is an Autonaut with a large suit of pre-installed sensors. One of the main advantages of the Autonaut is its limited draught, which is extremely useful in the shallow Belgian part of the North Sea. As such, the vehicle can always navigate over the shallow sand banks. The Autonaut is also energy-neutral. Its movement is powered by wave action, while solar panels provide energy for the sensors. This makes sure that a large degree of autonomy can be achieved: the Autonaut can stay out at sea for weeks till months. In cases of emergency or when the sea is extremely flat, a small propeller can provide the extra energy boost to move away from an obstacle. During missions, the watercraft is monitored in real-time and small amounts of data can be transmitted for control purposes.

Why use an USV?

An USV can fully autonomously perform a large amount of measurements out at sea. This brings forth a number of advantages. Some examples are (non-exhaustive):

  1. An USV can perform measurements much longer than a research vessel. As such, longer time series can be obtained compared to conventional techniques.
  2. The USV can handle tough weather conditions. Till sea state 5-6, the USV can keep on performing measurements, while research vessels already have to take shelter.
  3. The limited draught enables efficient coastal research. Research vessels cannot access certain shallow areas (or only during high water), while the USV is much less restrained.
  4. Semi-stationary data can be obtained at locations where no buoy is present. The limited turning radius (less than 100 meters) enables semi-stationary data at different locations.

Technical details

    • Length: 5 meters
    • Width: ± 0.5 meters
    • Draught: 1 meter
    • Weight: 250 kg
  1. Operational characteristics
    • Autonomy: weeks to months
    • Batteries provide additional energy or energy storage
  2. Communication & gps
    • Wifi connection
    • 4G connection
    • Iridium satellite
  3. Additional info
    • Transport in 2 boxes (3 and 3.5 meter)
    • Remote pilotage possible

How to make us of the USV?

For more information about our rental service, please contact VLIZ

Use and conditions

Note: if you use the USV of VLIZ as a scientist, please refer to it in your publications as: 'This work was supported by data & infrastructure provided by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)'.