Drone Kayaks Map Ponds in RI

The use of an unmanned kayak is aiding in the study of fish consumption and public health / URI photo

ecoRI.org: Standing on the edge of Schoolhouse Pond, Chris Roman and Marcella Thompson watched as an unmanned kayak traveled back and forth across the pond in a series of calculated switchbacks. When it had completed its mission, the vessel returned to its starting point, where the 2 University of Rhode Island researchers were waiting.

The route the vessel took in the pond, as well in nearby Deep Pond, was a test of the unmanned kayak’s ability to independently navigate and use a system of high-tech oceanographic instruments, including side-scan sonar, to collect data about the ponds and create a map of their sediments.

“The kayak is an autonomous system guided by GPS, so it’s doing all the thinking. It’s like glorified cruise control,” said Roman, associate professor at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. “We now have better bathymetry (underwater mapping) of those ponds than there exists for any other pond in Rhode Island.”


Read more about the testing of drone kayaks by the University of Rhode Island.