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 is remotely controlled for 24/7, and is able to carry out measurements of atmosphere and water (surface) for weeks to months. 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 for days till months straight. The device remains 24/7 under the remote control of a pilot and does not make autonomous decisions. The USV of VLIZ is an Autonaut. 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. 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.

Why use an USV?

An USV can 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 use of the USV?

For more information about the device and in case of interest in using it for scientific research, please contact the VLIZ Marine Robotics Center:

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)'.