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This paper provides a study on the development and the use of a small autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) that automatically follows programmed mission transects, while measuring sensor outputs along the tracks. It discusses the mechanical construction of the ASV, the distributed architecture of controller area network (CAN)-based nodes for science and vehicle payloads, high-speed radio-frequency (RF) communications, the performance of the heading autopilot, global positioning system (GPS)-based guidance algorithm, and the mission programming technique. The field trials of the ASV, performed off the coast of Goa, India, are focused on retrieving the 2-D spatial distribution of surface chlorophyll, which is one of the useful parameters in characterizing the nature of calibration-validation (CALVAL) sites for ocean remote sensing needs. A further benefit of ASVs is that they can be built at a low cost and used in monitoring applications of diverse coastal ecosystems.
Date of Publication: April 2007