Saildrone’s first aluminum Surveyor autonomous vessel splashes down for Navy testing

Saildrone’s New Aluminum Autonomous Vessel Debuts for Navy Testing


Ocean intelligence company Saildrone recently launched the first aluminum variant of their Surveyor autonomous vessel. This development comes as the Navy expresses interest in utilizing these unmanned ships. However, there are no plans to arm them.


Founder and CEO of Saildrone, Richard Jenkins, anticipates the demand for ocean observing to increase significantly. He believes that aerial, surface, and subsurface technologies will contribute to comprehensive ocean observations.

New Development:

The newly introduced 20-meter SD-3000 model shares similarities with earlier Surveyor models, featuring a composite wing but an aluminum hull and keel. The choice of material was driven by factors such as durability, long lifespan, affordability, and ease of mass production.

Value Proposition:

Unlike satellites, USVs offer high-resolution data from both above and below the sea surface with greater spatial and temporal resolution. They enable persistent measurements beyond the capabilities of AUVs.


Improved marine intelligence plays a crucial role in various sectors, including climate science, international logistics, law enforcement, and military operations. The Navy specifically seeks to utilize the capabilities of the new Surveyor for generating “surface and undersea intelligence” for priority applications.

Future Plans:

Austal expects to manufacture one Surveyor every six weeks starting with the SD-3000 and several upcoming aluminum models. These vessels will undergo Navy testing to assess their potential for producing valuable surface and undersea intelligence.


As the maritime industry evolves, companies like Saildrone are pushing boundaries with innovative solutions like the aluminum Surveyor. Its integration into the naval fleet could lead to significant advancements in ocean monitoring and intelligence gathering.

Saildrone’s first aluminum Surveyor autonomous vessel splashes down for Navy testing