Technological innovation is key to efficient mapping and surveying in difficult to reach and time-consuming geographies. The IOCM community participates in some of the following activities:
Unmanned aircraft and watercraft are cost-effective and easy to deploy vehicles that can be equipped with advanced technologies to expand our knowledge of the oceanic and coastal environment while minimizing the potentially harmful human footprint that we leave behind when studying remote areas. See some news at https://www.noaa.gov/news/how-noaa-is-transforming-science-with-unmanned-systems. Airborne topobathymetric lidar is used to survey shallow water and delineate the shoreline. Though not yet operational, small aerial vehicles are under evaluation to collect imagery that is used to create three-dimensional models using structure-from-motion processing. In deeper waters, the IOCM community is researching and utilizing unmanned systems to expand the mapping capabilities of existing platforms. Since 2004, Coast Survey has used small and mid-sized AUVs to conduct emergency response missions and supplement traditional survey ships. In recent years, Coast Survey and its academic partners at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Southern Mississippi have focused on research and development of larger unmanned surface vehicles with increased endurance. Acquisition for hydrographic surveys by NOAA contractors has demonstrated that one unmanned surface vessel can acquire as much or more data than the host vessel depending on environmental conditions, depth range, and survey layout. Advancing these innovations is the future.
Satellite Derived Bathymetry Task Team
In 2017, IWG-OCM and NASA setup the Satellite-Derived Bathymetry (SDB) Task Team, which was chartered to cooperatively investigate remote sensing methods and techniques for the generation of reliable SDB mapping products using standardized metadata schema and definition, consistent data formats, and incorporating best practices for long-term science and end-user applications.