We have setup a few boats for this purpose. I have preordered a BlueBoat, as we do work in some weed infested ponds that clog up and stop our other USV’s in their tracks. Hopefully they will work in water like this!
Both out our boats use the same architecture, and it has worked great for the past 2 field seasons. Our boats are the long range heavy duty Zissou:
And the shallow draft smaller Klaus:
Both these boats use multiple radios and communications for redundancy, as we work in mining pits, where we are not allowed to go on the water for any reason. If we loose connection or the boat has a problem it is a 100% loss. Here is our setup:
Echosounder: Teledyne E20 (33/200 KHz) on Zissou and Echologger ECT D24S (200/450kHz) on Klauss.
GPS: iG9 heads in RTK with 462 MHz correction
Telemetry Radio: RFD 900x, use this for telemetry and connection to Mission Planner or QGC for mission planning and monitoring the boat vitals. We can also connect a joystick to the ground station compuer to manually control the boat if needed.
RC Radio: HereLink 2.4 GHz this is used for RC control and a secondary telemetry read out. We need to launch the Zissou about 300 m away and 60 m down from our ground station. This allows us to launch the boat, and not need to haul the ground station around.
Companion Computer Radio: Mikrotik omnitik (on boat) and MantBox on ground station. This is a 5.8 network bridge that allows us to view the IP PTZ cameras on board, and to remote desktop onto a windows 10 companion computer onboard each boat.
Each boat is equipped with a windows companion computer that we have Hypack installed. This software is used to create a data matrix from the echosounder data, GPS, and a multiparameter SONDE we have installed. All data is recorded on the boats, and we can adjust parameters and start/stop logging through a remote desktop. We do not transmit the data back to the ground station, as there are latency issues, and potential loss of communications at long distances, although we do have full comms with the 5.8 GHz at 1.8 km distance in a large mining pit. This system works great for us and the redundancy definatly makes you feel better when pushing them off into the unknown…Here is a pic of the ground station we made, so we can view Mission Planner USV control and plan survey lines, PTZ camera view, and remote desktop to the computer on the boat to monitor the data collection…