For some projects, surface or USV-mounted equipment simply doesn’t provide all the answers, and particularly in shallow water areas, those needed data are forced to resort to conventional methods with small, inefficient vessels putting people into harms way in dynamic coastal environments, and preventing the realization of the environmental benefits of USVs.

This paper will focus on the progress we have made with towed hydrographic and geophysical solutions from USV platforms. Sulmara has already completed USV campaigns utilising towed sensors, and we will share the challenges of this technology development. Results from these surveys will be presented, as well as a comparison to conventional techniques and an honest assessment of both the advantages and disadvantages observed.

During Q4 2023, Sulmara will embark on a large commercial CCS project survey, where a USV will acquire MBES, towed SSS, SBP and MAG data in a single pass. This campaign is the result of a lengthy internal development project and market engagement, and we will share details from the various
stages of our efforts, as well as a critique of the results that will be available by the date of this conference.

The datasets themselves, and details of the USV operations will be presented and discussed. Credible topics such as towing configuration, data quality, positioning, remote access for data QC and processing will be presented, with focus on where further improvements can be made.

By sharing the results from our initial projects, we hope to challenge the industry to adapt, adopt and explore the further use of these techniques. It is likely that an evolution in mindset towards the use of these systems will be required to allow them to fulfil their potential, and using a prestigious event to engage with industry leaders is an ideal environment to accelerate these discussions.



 Michael King

With a technical background as a geophysicist, Michael started his career working offshore in oil and gas exploration across the world. Subsequently, he specialised in hydrographic and geophysical surveys in Europe, mostly for offshore renewable projects. Since 2016, he has been focused on business development and innovation, responsible for providing strategic commercial support and insight, with particular concentration on uncrewed systems and their applications.

He sits on numerous industry advisory and steering groups, including the Marine Studies Group of the Geological Society of London, and is the vice-chair of IMCA’s MASS committee.