Plymouth Marine Lab reveals autonomous research vessel

Plymouth Marine Laboratory has recently unveiled plans for Oceanus, the world’s first long-range autonomous research vessel. The 24-meter-long boat is designed by Plymouth-based company M SUBS Ltd as a self-righting, mono-hulled watercraft equipped with various monitoring sensors that help it collect robust data for research into fields like climate change, biodiversity, fisheries, and biogeochemistry. Though we only have some drawings so far, we can already tell that the vessel showcases a futuristic look with sleek lines and impressive technological features. 

24-meter-long 'oceanus' is the world's first long-range autonomous research vessel

all images courtesy of Plymouth Marine Laboratory

prioritizing environmental responsibility

Right now, oceanographic sampling is mainly based on manned research trips or smaller autonomous devices. Even if research trips are still important for verification purposes and complicated tasks, they are still expensive, logistically challenging, and not that environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, smaller autonomous devices can be efficient but have a limited range. Switching to a vessel like Oceanus to obtain samples from the sea would reduce costs, and human errors, as well as improve safety at the same time. 

Prioritizing environmental responsibility, Oceanus will feature a fuel-efficient diesel engine accompanied by micro-energy generation devices and solar panels on its deck. Since there will be no crew or living facilities onboard to add to the ship’s weight, the overall fuel consumption will also be greatly reduced. 

24-meter-long 'oceanus' is the world's first long-range autonomous research vessel

Shaped as a 24-meter-long lightweight vessel with a beam of 3.5 m, Oceanus is primarily designed to make transatlantic sampling voyages from the UK to the Falklands and collect samples from the ocean. AI technological features will help the vessel navigate the best course to its target location, with real-time input from weather forecasts and other marine data feeds. Scientists hope that Oceanus will eventually enable a remote Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT), a unique annual marine research expedition along the length of the Atlantic Ocean that embarked on its first voyage in 1995. 

‘This is a hugely exciting venture, with the capacity to revolutionize the way we carry out marine research expeditions and support the drive towards net zero. The Oceanus will exploit the very latest in AI technology, enabling us to push the frontiers of marine science and open up new opportunities in how we monitor the ocean environment. Not that long ago this would have been the stuff of science fiction fantasy but through the design and development of the Oceanus we are really unlocking the future of ocean-going marine research.’ shares Icarus Allen, Chief Executive of Plymouth Marine Laboratory (see more here). 

24-meter-long 'oceanus' is the world's first long-range autonomous research vessel24-meter-long 'oceanus' is the world's first long-range autonomous research vessel24-meter-long 'oceanus' is the world's first long-range autonomous research vessel

project info: 

name: Oceanus
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, M SUBS Ltd

myrto katsikopoulou I designboom

jun 01, 2022