NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – January 14, 2015 — The boat the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography will be exhibiting at the Providence Boat Show next weekend is unlike any others visitors will see at the show. But it’s not a pleasure craft. Instead, it is helping scientists learn a great deal about the water on which all the other boats travel.
On first glance it looks like a typical kayak. But on closer inspection it is a self-propelled robotic watercraft that can collect data on water temperature, salinity, pH, chlorophyll, and oxygen, as well as sonar images, using a suite of environmental sensors. Called an autonomous surface vehicle or ASV, it is used by URI students and researchers to help understand the conditions in the Narragansett Bay watershed and elsewhere.
“We are developing the ASV to be a combination research and teaching tool,” said Chris Roman, professor of oceanography and ocean engineering who uses the kayak in his classes. “We’re looking to get students into the field more easily using the research platforms of the future.”
The Graduate School of Oceanography exhibit will also include interactive kiosks highlighting a number of other technologies and research projects being undertaken by URI scientists and students. Among them will be displays about the Inner Space Center, the URI facility that provides around-the-clock live video of oceanographic research expeditions taking place around the globe.
“The Providence Boat Show offers GSO a unique venue to provide an interactive experience that exposes the public to new and innovative projects going on in the world of oceanography,” said Tom Miller, director of administration at the Graduate School of Oceanography. “In addition, our staff and students really enjoy seeing the latest boating technologies and improvements in boat design, and tying their experience and research focus to potential issues the boating community faces. We really appreciate the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association providing us this opportunity again this year.”
Caption: URI Associate Dean David Smith describes the Graduate School of Oceanography’s autonomous surface vehicle to visitors to last year’s Providence Boat Show. Photo by Mike Salerno Photography